Mesh, the ad-hoc wireless networking technology that lets communities share a single broadband connection over areas up to 20 square kilometres, is now available in an industrial package.
Wordsworth Technology, a UK supplier of supplier of industrial computers, has developed a ruggedized mesh networking box based on software from Locustworld, the UK company pioneering mesh networking.
Mesh networks work using a series of nodes -- typically very small, low-cost PCs with flash disks in place of hard drives -- to extend a Wi-Fi network from a broadband cable or satellite connection over large areas. By 'hopping' from one node to the next, they can reach much further than a single Wi-Fi connection on its own.
Wordsworth's new node, called the Pack Box, is based on a mini-ITX motherboard from Taiwanese chipset and motherboard manufacturer VIA Technologies, which has been aligning itself closely with the ambitions of Locustworld. VIA's mini-ITX motherboards come fitted with its own line of low-power x86 processors (the C3), which are suited to appliances such as mesh nodes, where failure-prone moveable parts such as fans and hard disks are highly undesirable.
"Wordsworth produced this box specifically for industrial environments," said Richard Lander of Locustworld. "Although it is a niche market, it is a very big niche market. You could use these to connect up everybody across a large warehouse, or even in a mine." The Pack Box runs off a 12 volt power supply. Prices were not immediately available.