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Mode 2 FAQ
What is Mode 2?
Mode 2 is the name of the specification recently approved by the DASH7 Alliance that will be submitted to ISO in order to begin the process of updating the ISO 18000-7 standard for active RFID. Mode 2 adds new PHY and MAC layers as well as new encoding and modulation schemes that enable a range of capabilities required for DASH7 to compete in the wireless sensor networking/internet of things arena.
Why was Mode 2 created?
Mode 2 was created to equip non-DoD DASH7 developers with basic capabilities like RTLS, IPv6, faster bitrates, better security support, longer battery life, and...
Is Mode 2 “backwards compatible” with Mode 1?
Mode 2 devices can be configured to “speak” both Mode 1 and Mode 2, however existing Mode 1 devices cannot be configured to speak Mode 2. Strictly speaking, Mode 2 devices are not “automatically” backwards compatible with Mode 1 devices unless the Mode 2 device manufacturer programs a Mode 2 device in that way.
Could you tell me what the status of the Mode 2 specification is at this point -- it's not an official ISO standard yet, correct?
Not yet a standard. The alliance voted (overwhelmingly) to approve the Mode 2 specification this month and to submit it to ISO as a new work item for comment and ratification. We will begin to see comments in the coming months.
When do you expect it to become an ISO standard?
The alliance today has nearly 60 participants from 23 countries, nearly all of whom are participating in their national standards body that votes in ISO, so we expect the ISO process to move more swiftly than if, say, a single company or country were submitting a new work item to ISO on its own since the alliance votes as a bloc within ISO. So the “heavy lifting” of commenting on the Mode 2 specification, we think, is to a large degree complete. Many (but not all) of the same organizations who would otherwise vote independently in ISO are members of the DASH7 Alliance so the specification we submitted is pre-vetted by ISO members, unlike most work items submitted to ISO. Our goal with the DASH7 Alliance is to make the ISO process work better – not to replace it – and Mode 2 is a good example of this.
Would DASH7 Alliance members be releasing hardware based on Mode 2 ahead of ISO ratifying the standard?
Definitely. Development is well underway at several companies, with more coming onboard now that the spec is available.
What will be the significance of Mode 2 to end users? What are major new applications and function that Mode 2 will enable for them?
This is a profound change, really. First, Mode 2 has been designed to be extremely developer-friendly. Mode 2 is event-driven, so for example a sensor event can trigger a tag-initiated communication, something that was not provided for in Mode 1. Another important advance is the use of multiple channels, rather than the single channel in Mode 1. This enables RTLS, operating at 433 MHz, which is very exciting since so many RTLS systems today operate at 2.4GHz or use some proprietary approach. I envision most or all DASH7 tags eventually supporting RTLS as a default feature, since the vast majority of tags sold in the next 10 years will be required to interact with open loop networks where there is a high probability of RTLS being required. Another important benefit of Mode 2 (related to how RTLS is implemented) is tag-to-tag communications, something that we could not do with Mode 1 but is required for building automation and smart energy apps. Tag-to-tag communications is also extremely important for a new wave of enterprise visibility that associates a person (think DASH7-enabled access control) with an asset (think manufacturing equipment or a hospital refrigerator) or even another person. The visibility infrastructure for integrating all of these until now has been heterogeneous, but with DASH7 Mode 2, we can provide a single, unified view of the enterprise at low cost of deployment and maintenance.
In-building tracking and monitoring apps, including smart energy apps, are some of the biggest beneficiaries of Mode 2, many of whom are insisting on IPv6 and better crypto support, which Mode 2 delivers. For developers seeking a higher bitrate, we’ve upped the max throughput of Mode 2 to 250kbps, though we still view DASH7 as best for short, bursty, asynchronous messaging, not streaming South Park episodes. Mode 2 is even more battery friendly than Mode 1, so DASH7 remains the single lowest power wireless sensor networking standard in the world today.