Debugging building automation applications

Debugging building automation applications

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Building automation has been hamstrung by the lack of practical and affordable communications technologies, but ZigBee makes it feasible to embed wireless communications into virtually any commercial building automation product. ZigBee-based building automation applications are usually built on resource-constrained 8-bit or 16-bit microcontrollers, with the networking stack and application often sharing the same processor. Many ZigBee-based applications already exist in other forms, often using wired networks or no networking. Consider, for example, a ZigBee wireless thermostat. Its debugging challenges are similar to those posed by standard microcontroller unit (MCU)-based thermostats. But the debugging challenges are compounded when the MCU has to be shared by an application and a network stack, not to mention the non-determinism of wireless networking. As ZigBee systems grow in size, from a single thermostat to a complete building HVAC system, for example, the applications become more distributed with many processors and communications links involved. A new approach to debugging is needed to enable this type of application development.

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