ANT is a proprietary wireless sensor network technology which features a wireless communications protocol stack which enables the industrial and medical devices to communicate by establishing standard rules for co-existence, data representation, signaling, authentication and error detection. As ANT Protocol is a closed source protocol, there is no Standard or RFC. The role of ANT Protocol in current medical devices and to become a part of IoT protocols in future makes it important. ANT operates in the 2.4 GHz space and supports point-to-point, many-to-one and many-to-many topologies.
ANT Protocol in Brief
ANT is designed and marketed by ANT Wireless. ANT Wireless is a division of Dynastream Innovations Inc. which is a subsidiary of Garmin Inc. ANT protocol is available on low-power RF transceiver like Nordic Semiconductor or Texas Instruments. ANT Protocol running nodes act either or both as slaves or masters within a wireless sensor network. Nodes can act as transmitters, receivers or transceivers to route traffic to the other nodes.
ANT can spend long periods in a low-power sleep mode and wake up briefly to communicate during transmission and return back to sleep mode again. Channels are bi-directional. ANT accommodates broadcast, acknowledged and burst.
Acknowledged messaging confirms receipt of data packets and the transmitter gets the information of success or failure of the transmission.
Obviously for these reasons, ANT Protocol is used by the companies such as Adidas, Garmin, Geonaute, Nike, Suunto, Fitbit and Tacx for monitoring devices. ANT uses an adaptive isochronous network technology to ensure coexistence with other ANT devices.
ANT+ is a sub-system of ANT protocol to encourage interoperability and access to data between the manufacturers of smartphones, diagnostics, remote control systems etc.
Alternative to ANT Protocol and ANT+
Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy and ZigBee are often compared with ANT Protocol. ZigBee is based on an IEEE 802.15.4 standard. The technology defined by the ZigBee specification is less expensive than other wireless personal area networks including Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The IEEE standardized Bluetooth as IEEE 802.15.1, but no longer maintains the standard. Bluetooth low energy (Bluetooth LE, BLE, Bluetooth Smart) is a wireless personal area network technology aimed at applications in the healthcare, fitness, beacons and security.