We decided right of the bat to make the open source Wacnet run on the JVM. While it might have looked like it was going to chain us to powerful computers only, we knew what we were doing. The trend was already quite clear: processing power getting cheaper every day.
This means that we can develop something right now for devices that seem prohibitively expensive, but knowing that in 18 months they’ll be twice as cheap.
We dabbled into some architectures a little different from your classic PC by running Wacnet on the Raspberry Pi and the MK802. The process was surprisingly straightforward: find a compatible linux distro (that’s the hardest part), install the correct JVM and tada! You can now run the BACnet Webserver directly on these miniature computers.
Following the processing power price curve, we can expect that these will soon be expandable. In fact, in many cases, they already are. It’s often cheaper to just buy a preconfigured unit than taking the time to install the software on a normal PC and configuring it yourself.
The next devices to become disposable are probably the tablets. This is very exciting, because it means that you can bundle your application with some kind of user interface. This enables you to give immediate feedback to your user, but also to broaden your customer base, because now they don’t need to know how to SSH into a remote machine!
In light of this, we are already preparing ourselves to install Wacnet on tablets. A complete standalone Bacnet webserver on a disposable tablet… connect it to any network and you can see every Bacnet device. This would enable technicians to be directly in front of their machines AND access the network at the same time.
We are not quite there yet, but we are getting close. We are exploring the different chip architectures and trying to find which one is going to be cheap and around for a little while. There’s also other things to consider, such as the screen size. What is the correct size to enable you to see enough information, but which isn’t a hassle to bring along?
We’ll let you know here and on the mailing list when a prototype is ready. Until then, feel free to tell us what feature you’d like on a BACnet tablet!