ZigBee Brings Safety to the Seas

BOSTON and MILAN -- Ember’s ZigBee networking technology featured in Raymarine’s new innovative personal wireless “man overboard” system promises greater safety for boaters at sea. A preview of the new Raymarine LifeTag system is on display this week at the Milan ZigBee Open House.

LifeTag sounds an audible alarm when a crew, friend or family member, or even a pet, falls overboard. LifeTag can protect boats with up to 16 crewmembers by wirelessly communicating each member’s status to a LifeTag base station. If a person or pet falls overboard, immersion in saltwater rapidly degrades the wireless signal, triggering an alarm to alert the crew. The LifeTag alarm is also activated when a member moves beyond 30 ft. of the boat, as well as through manual activation by pressing and holding a red button for 3 s. The wireless system is designed to give boaters both protection and peace of mind through an added safety feature that is unobtrusive and easy to use. 

The LifeTag System is the first commercially available product to use Ember’s EM250 ZigBee system-on-a-chip and EmberZNet ZigBee-compliant networking software. As a testament to the rapid application development capabilities inherent in Ember’s standards-based networking platform, Raymarine successfully built the new ZigBee-based product in less than 50 days. According to Kieran Breheny, director of engineering development at Raymarine, “The nature of ZigBee makes it an ideal wireless standard for our LifeTag man overboard system. Ember’s complete ZigBee platform and integrated tools enabled us to meet an aggressive product development cycle time.”

Each LifeTag system consists of a base station and two wearable LifeTags, which can be fitted around an arm or attached to a belt. The base station handles communication with each LifeTag and provides outputs for external alarm sirens and relay contacts. The base station also speaks SeaTalk, Raymarine’s interdevice communications network, enabling it to activate the man-overboard mode on Raymarine’s multifunction displays to help quickly locate the missing person. The devices can operate a year or more on a single lithium battery (over 200 operational hours).

“The Raymarine/Ember partnership is another example of the flexibility and broad market potential of ZigBee technology for monitoring and control, and sensory network applications,” said Mohamed Awad, director of business development for EMEA. “Ember networking systems are already powering Raymarine’s wireless autopilot system for sports boats. Ember technology is also used in other parties’ marine applications, ranging from wireless sensor networks that sniff out radiation and bioterrorism agents aboard ocean cargo containers to monitoring the freshness of fish en route to market.” 

About Raymarine

Raymarine plc, a world leader in marine electronics, develops and manufactures the most comprehensive range of electronic equipment for the recreational boating market. Designed for high performance and ease of use, the award-winning products are available through a global network of dealers and distributors. For more information about Raymarine, please visit www.raymarine.com.

ZigBee: Wireless Control That Simply Works

The ZigBee Alliance is an association of companies working together to enable reliable, cost-effective, low-power, wirelessly networked, monitoring and control products based on an open global standard. The ZigBee Alliance is a rapidly growing, nonprofit industry consortium of leading semiconductor manufacturers, technology providers, OEMs, and end-users worldwide. Membership is open to all. Additional information can be found at www.zigbee.org.

About Ember Corporation

Ember enables communication among embedded microcontrollers with standards-based wireless mesh networking semiconductors and software. Ember helps its customers to automate home appliances, reduce energy consumption in buildings, keep borders and infrastructure secure, and control industrial processes, just to name four of the many diverse applications being developed by Ember’s more than 100 customers. Spun out of MIT in 2001, Ember is headquartered in Boston and has its radio development center in Cambridge, England, and distributors worldwide. Ember is a lead member of the ZigBee Alliance, and its platform is the National Technical Systems’ (NTS) “Golden Suite” for 802.15.4/ZigBee interoperability testing. For more information, please visit www.ember.com.

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