Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) was conceived 40 years ago as a standard interface for low data rate computer local area networks (LANs). As its specification has developed versions of the original standard are now used in applications ranging from consumer to industrial.
The same is happening to the IEEE802.11 Wi-Fi standard, which itself is almost 20 years old. Created as a short range wireless communications standard for ‘soft’ environments like offices and homes, it has been ruggedised for use in industrial communications technology.
The market for industrial-grade Wi-Fi has grown steadily. As with Ethernet, it the popularity of the technology in many markets has driven down cost and made it attractive for use in more exacting applications.
Industrial Wi-Fi terminals need a higher level of electromagnetic immunity than consumer or office systems, plus galvanic isolation to guard against voltage instability and a wider operating temperature range.
Typically they come in a metal housing with IP-68 protection against dust and water, and shock/vibration resistance.
Interface standards establish their permanence either by carrying all before them from day one, like USB, or by growing more slowly, and becoming more long-lived like Wi-Fi and Ethernet.
What will be the wireless standard for IoT? It’s obvious. It will be 802.11.