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Mesh networking goes industrial

The Pack Box is designed to help mesh networking reach places other wireless networks can't
Written by Matt Loney, Contributor
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.

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