Silicon Labs turns 20 this year, and over the course of 2016 we’ll be taking a look at how the world has changed, where we’re going, and meet some of the employees, partners, and customers that have helped shape the last two decades by delivering on the promise of a connected world.
We start this series by exploring what it means to be connected.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as being “joined or linked together” and “having useful social, professional, or commercial relationships.” According to Gartner, there were nearly 5 billion connected devices in 2015 – and that number is expected to rise to more than 25 billion by 2020!
However, the Internet of Things (IoT) doesn’t just connect things. It also gives us more ways of using those things to connect with each other, and a more connected world accelerates innovation, collaboration, and cultural understanding. We’re living in a golden age for engineering and at Silicon Labs we’re passionate about discovering simple, elegant, and efficient solutions to complex problems.
Innovation and technology are converging to turn ordinary products into ‘enchanted objects’ that provide users with more information or usefulness than they expect. This is really the future of our company - building the chips and solutions that go into these connected devices.
Wearables can already provide feedback about your workout and soon people with chronic diseases will be able to wear devices or implants that alert them before a crisis occurs… call for an ambulance before they have a heart attack… or inject insulin when blood sugar levels reach a designated threshold. Other wearable devices may be used to detect cancer cells early, when treatment has a higher rate of success.
The connected home is already a reality – adoption is increasing and the concept is reaching the mainstream as major retailers realize its potential. Just last year Target launched the Target Open House, an experimental retail space that mimics an actual home using transparent acrylic walls and furniture to showcase a wide range of devices throughout the space. Already devices such as your thermostat, lighting, and security system are able to tell whether you have left the room or the house and adjust accordingly. A baby’s restless movements at night might trigger soothing white noise from speakers in the room – while the sound of the baby crying automatically starts coffee brewing for a sleepy mom or dad.
One example we’re proud of is the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, which uses our ZigBee system on chip (SoCs). This award-winning energy-efficient smart LED bulb, combined with the Nanoleaf Smart Hub, makes it possible for you to control your lighting from your iPhone or iPad, use Siri voice control to adjust lighting, and program your own unique commands like “dim the lights for movie night.”
In a more connected world, controlling energy use at home is just the beginning of a more energy-friendly future. Smart utility grids will allow us to use our resources more efficiently, prevent problems like blackouts before they occur, and channel resources where they are needed and when they are needed.
We can also expand our knowledge a little farther from home. Images of earth taken by mini-satellites can track deforestation, agriculture, droughts, and help with disaster relief. Other projects are giving us new insights into the solar system and providing data that helps us better understand our universe.
A more connected world brings people together. School children are connecting with kids in a classroom on the other side of the world – bringing new understanding of different cultures. Volunteers with in-demand talents are connecting with organizations that need assistance, even if they’re hundreds of miles away. At work, we foster collaboration and exchange ideas in real-time to increase productivity.
In 2016, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we’re celebrating what it means to live in a more connected world – a world that is transforming the way we live and work. Over the next weeks and months, we’ll be highlighting the rise of this more connected world.
The next post in this series will explore the first five years of the company, so come back to learn about those formative years.