The LonTalk protocol and related LonWorks technology were developed by Echelon Corporation to provide an interoperable device-level distributed control system network for factory and building automation. The principle implementation of the LonTalk protocol is a microcontroller called the Neuron Chip. Motorola and Toshiba, under license from Echelon, manufacture several different versions of the Neuron Chip.
LonTalk is currently an industry standard protocol for such groups as heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning engineers (ASHRAE), semiconductor manufacturers (SEMIC), and the Electronics Industry Alliance (EIA). LonTalk was an innovator in the field of control networks. LonTalk’s arrival, coupled with its initial proprietary nature, spawned many efforts to produce competing protocols. LonTalk has since become an open protocol—with Adept’s direct involvement—and is the industry leader. The distributed control networks are sometimes referred to as “infranets” to distinguish them from the more well known internet and intranets.
LonTalk is a full-featured OSI similar to 7-layer protocol. It provides, to end users, the capability to use components from different venders, hence the descriptor “interoperable.”