Qualcomm debuts new Wi-Fi router supporting mesh networking and voice assistant

Qualcomm debuts new Wi-Fi router supporting mesh networking and voice assistant
Chip maker Qualcomm is well known for its smartphone processors. However, the company also has a presence in the mesh network router market. Products such as Eero, Google Wi-Fi and Netgear Orbi all rely on Qualcomm’s technology.

At Computex 2017, the company announced its next-generation mesh network technology and reference design. The new all-in-one design gives Wi-Fi router many capabilities like mesh networking, self-healing, self-organizing configuration. The reference design also supports voice assistants and various smart home protocols in the industry.

In other words, the router will not only provide Wi-Fi network connectivity, but also serve as a smart home control hub.

Qualcomm’s mesh networking system contains microchips and needed software to manage Wi-Fi connection, and manufacturers can add features such as parental controls or guest access to the product.

The system’s software also supports voice assistants, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Qualcomm provides voice recognition, noise cancellation and connection to voice assistants’ cloud platforms. Router makers will supply microphone arrays and speakers.

Different smart home protocols are also supported by the Wi-Fi router, including Bluetooth, CSRMesh and 802.15.4, which forms the basis for the ZigBee protocol. Therefore, the new system will support Wink and Samsung SmartThings platforms.

Usually a separate home hub is required to bridge these protocols to the smartphone or the Internet. But Qualcomm’s new system has the ambition to integrate everything into one router system. If more router makers adopt the new system, consumers’ demand for Amazon Echo or Google Home might actually decrease.

The reference design uses the IPQ40x8/9 dual-radio networking SoC with Wi-Fi SON functionality built-in. The platform supports 802.11ad and 802.11ax to connect different units rather than using Ethernet and mesh nodes.

According to Qualcomm, the first product using the new Wi-Fi mesh networking system will be available during the 2017 holiday season.

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