“Dynamic Multi-protocol” solution brings wireless harmony in smart home: Silicon Labs

“Dynamic Multi-protocol” solution brings wireless harmony in smart home: Silicon Labs
International smart home experts gathered at SMAhome International Conference and Exhibition 2017 to present their latest technology innovations and development. Luke Pao, Country Manager from Silicon Labs Taiwan shared the company’s perspective on the smart home status at the event. Here is the summary of his speech.

Smart home is a fast-growing market, Juniper Research predicted that smart home will be a 100-billion USD market by 2020, and it has already reached 43 billion USD in 2015. Pao said, “Think about it in your home. You have one or two gateways at most, but maybe ten or twenty lights in your home. If all of these lights become smart lights in the coming future, you can imagine that quantity in the growth of smart home market.”

Silicon Labs has shipped 100 million Zigbee SoCs, the key product of the company, to the market last year, and the number is growing by millions every quarter. Most of the applications is going into smart home.

Zigbee, a low-power wireless mesh network based on IEEE 802.15.4 MAC/PHY (2.4GHz), has an alliance of more than 425 participant companies. It defines physical layer, networking layer as well as the application layer. The Zigbee 3.0 is consolidating HA1.2, Zigbee light link and green power.

Working on an IP-based mesh network, Silicon Labs and six companies founded Thread group. With the same physical layer of IEEE 802.15.4 MAC/PHY (2.4GHz), it adds on an IP-addressable stack instead of Zigbee, makes it easier to connect to smart home. The difference of Thread from Zigbee is that Thread doesn’t define the application layer, and this creates a larger flexibility to work with applications.

The IP-based application layer of Zigbee is especially announced by CES in January, 2017 as “dotdot,” which is a universal language for the IoT across multiple protocol including Thread, Wi-Fi, BLE and more.

From the viewpoint of a SoC provider, Pao said, a SoC that runs with multi-protocol can meet the requirements for the wireless technology in smart home. Take “dynamic multi-protocol”, which allows application time-slices between two protocols, as an example, when a user approaches his house and his smartphone automatically picks up a Bluetooth from the door lock, and unlocks the door via an app; and when the user is at home, he use home controller via Thread to control the lock. Other cases includes programmable, switched and concurrent protocols.

As a result, Slicon Labs came out the Gecko portfolio. Mighty Gecko SoC is equipped with ARM® Cortex®-M4, up to 1024 kB of programmable flash and 256 kB RAM, ultra-low power of 1.5 µA (sleep), and wide supply voltage range of 1.8 to 3.8 V. Compatible with their software platform Simplicity Studio, where users can get free documentation, datasheet, IT support and advanced tools to help customizing their user experience.
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