The next generation of Wi-Fi, dubbed Wi-Fi 6 by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard and promises higher data rates, increased capacity, improved power efficiency and better performance.Wi-Fi is one of the most commonly used wireless standards and the introduction of its latest standard Wi-Fi 6 is expected to boost smart home adoption.
The next generation of Wi-Fi, dubbed Wi-Fi 6 by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard and promises higher data rates, increased capacity, improved power efficiency and better performance. It is expected to provide significantly improved performance in congested areas and have a positive impact on internet of things (IoT) networks and devices.
Many manufacturers of smart home devices believe Wi-Fi 6 to be a turning point in smart home development, with expectations it will make adoption of more smart home devices easier for consumers.
One key capability of Wi-Fi 6 is its new target wake time (TWT) feature. This feature significantly improves battery life in Wi-Fi devices by increasing the amount of time devices sleep. In a smart home setting where devices are always on and better energy efficiency is needed, Wi-Fi 6 will help smart home devices run more efficiently and effectively.
Although Wi-Fi is already one of the most commonly used wireless standards in smart homes, Taj Manku, Founder and CEO of Cognitive Systems, pointed out that it was becoming more than just a communication layer – it is becoming a layer to provide you context on what is happening in your home.
Cognitive Systems is betting smart home devices will predominately use Wi-Fi over smart-home-specific standards like Zigbee and Z-Wave. In the past, Wi-Fi was very spectrally inefficient, even in terms of power, but this would be fixed with the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, said Manku.
"The nice thing about Z-Wave, Zigbee and Bluetooth is that they are spectrally efficient and low power. Wi-Fi 6 will help match this,” Manku said. As such, he believes this will make it a very competitive standard in the smart home market. Also, one of the advantages of Wi-Fi compared to the other IoT standards is it only requires one central hub (i.e. the Wi-Fi access point) that is universal.
Cees Links, GM of Wireless Connectivity at Qorvo, also believes Wi-Fi 6 will be big for the smart home market. In a white paper on Wi-Fi 6 written by Links, he stated “the goal of Wi-Fi 6 is full coverage of a home (or a building), and maximum performance in every room, which results in maximum overall capacity for everyone (at the home/building level).”
According to Links, Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Bluetooth will be the dominant smart home standards. Additionally, since Zigbee will eventually be part of the Wi-Fi 6 network, a separate Zigbee hubs won’t be necessary in the future.
Wi-Fi as a service (WaaS) was also named by Manku as something of interest to consumers going forward, rather than "a one-time, you sell a box and that's the end of it" transaction. As a subscription-based service, WaaS providers offer infrastructure (e.g., hardware, design, etc.), software and managed services.
One thing to note, though, was that Wi-Fi 6 is still in the process of being ratified, said Links. Companies are already developing devices using the Wi-Fi 6 standard, certified products are expected in the third quarter of 2019.
*For more smart home trends of 2019, please visit Tech Experts Reveal 2019 Smart Home Technologies.