Wi-Fi is ubiquitous, and a great way to connect an application to the internet. We know wireless is a crucially important checkbox for many products, and we know how difficult integrating Wi-Fi can be. The new WGM110 Wi-Fi Expansion Kit can help.
The WGM110 Wi-Fi Expansion Kit is an add-on board that can plug into the EFM32PG1, EFM32PG12 and EFM32GG11 starter-kits (STKS) to enable Wi-Fi connectivity through the attached WGM110 Module. In addition, the software demo utilizes Micrium OS to ensure easy development.
The pre-certified WGM110 Wi-Fi module has the antenna and wireless stacks already integrated, so you can skip complex design and move straight to adding value in your core applications. Wi-Fi gives direct IP connectivity, and allows for greater through-put than similar connectivity technologies, making downloading, uploading, and data sharing easier and faster. With the quick addition of Wi-Fi through the WGM110 Expansion Kit, you can bypass the costly certification and complex development processes and capitalize on quick time to market turnarounds.
Taking advantage of the WGM110 Wi-Fi Expansion Kit for the wireless component of your application means all the heavy lifting is taken care of. The connected EFM32 MCU can be focused on the application itself, without worrying about network timing or the complexities of a network protocol. The WGM110 Wi-Fi module offers a great combination of features and performance. The module’s features include an integrated web-server, a soft-access point with support for up to 5 clients, as well as security through WPA2 Enterprise/Personal. The WGM110 has a throughput of 2 MBit/s. The EFM32 MCUs include a wide range of options and functionality for low power operation, connectivity. With the new EFM32 Giant Gecko Series 1, options include QSPI, SDIO and Ethernet, as well as functionality for graphical displays, sensor operation and user interaction.
To make the demo for the kit simple and easily extensible, it has been built on top of Micrium OS. The Micrium OS allows an application to be split into multiple processes, and can give great insights into what is going on inside the application, through tools like uC Probe and Systemview.
The demo that comes along with the kit includes a web client that communicates with the device through images. In the web client, you can draw an image, and this will pop up on the display of the kit. This is done leveraging a simple cloud service, where the image is uploaded from the editor, and where the kit demo can poll for and download new images.
Ketra is bringing the benefits and beauty of natural lighting indoors with its tunable lights, giving customers the ability to mimic the rhythms and patterns from a single bulb. Our friends over at EEWorld Online recently went under the hood of Ketra's A20 Color Changing LED bulb to explore some of the design considerations that go into the high-end designs.
The A20 includes Silicon Labs' EM3585 Mesh Networking SoC for ZigBee and Thread and you can watch the full video below:
We’re expanding our EFM32 Gecko product line with the latest Giant Gecko MCU, building on its reputation as a high-performance, energy efficient MCU. The new family of EFM32GG11 Giant Geckos bring the most advanced features available in low-power MCUs, making it ideally suited for industrial and building automation, asset tracking, and metering applications. New features include CAN, SDIO, and QSPI, as well as bringing all the functionality of the original Giant Gecko including Segment LCD, backup mode, USB, and TFT controller.
Shrinking power budgets for IoT applications and a rising demand for more are driving the need for MCUs that can do as much as possible while in sleep mode. With devices that can sleep more, and be more energy efficient, smaller batteries are required to meet the required battery lifetimes in applications like metering, wearables, and even personal medical devices, enabling lower cost and better form factors. These are both key to driving the adoption of IoT devices.
Giant Gecko provides best-in-class cryptography, for applications that need to safeguard user information and keep communication confidential. Energy-efficient security accelerators for AES, ECC and SHA allow these algorithms to be run much faster and more efficiently than conventional software methods. The device also includes a security management unit (SMU) supporting fine-grained security for peripheral access, and a NIST-certified true random number generator (TRNG) for higher security randomization.
Software compatibility across the entire EFM32 MCU and EFR32 Wireless Gecko SoC portfolio enables broad software reuse and reduced design time and cost for developers.
Giant Gecko MCUs come in a range of QFN, QFP and BGA package options with up to 192 pins, including many that are footprint-compatible with existing EFM32 MCUs. And Simplicity Studio development tools support the Gecko MCUs, offering one-click access to everything needed to complete projects in a unified Eclipse-based environment.
Get started with the latest Giant Gecko family here.
Joe Brock joined Silicon Labs as Senior Legal Counsel after the Integration Associates acquisition in 2008. In his current role as Director of Legal Affairs on the Corporate and Legal Services team, Brock is responsible for a variety of projects including everything from overseeing the purchasing department to handling contracts and nondisclosure agreements (NDA’s). Last year, Brock led the legal team in handling more than 1,200 NDAs and 700 contracts!
Brock said the unique thing about his position is he gets to “interact with employees in every department, in every office, and at every level throughout Silicon Labs.” Brock’s manager, Nestor Ho, said clients who are used to people saying things can’t be done love Joe because he’s approachable, a great listener, and is very pragmatic when implementing solutions. Calling him a genuine “people person,” Ho said “Joe is the glue that holds the legal team together.”
In true fashion, when asked about his favorite Silicon Labs value, Brock chose ‘Do the Right Thing.’ He said, “It’s in line with my own personal philosophy. I believe that if you treat people with kindness and respect, everything’s gonna be alright.”
A little known fact about Brock that others may not know is he is a skilled woodworker – he even makes guitars (but don’t ask him to play them!). He’s also an avid baseball fan. We asked him where he’d go if he could travel anywhere else in the world and he said although he’s excited about his upcoming trip to Thailand, “I don’t think they have any professional baseball there, so it’s actually distracting me from my real goal.” He continued, “What I would really like to do is go on a worldwide professional baseball tour and visit stadiums in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela and everywhere else where beisbol is played.”
We scored a home run when you came to work at Silicon Labs, Joe Brock. Keep up the great work!
We are featuring one of the Silicon Labs Community members who is active or new in the community on a monthly basis to help members connect with each other.
Meet our July member of the month: funkathustra
Q: Congrats on becoming our featured member of the month! Can you introduce yourself to our community members?
My name is Jay Carlson, and I’m an Electrical Engineering PhD student at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (go Huskers!). I do a lot of freelance electronics engineering on the side. I got interested in engineering after taking apart my dad’s Apple II computer when I was 6 or 7 years old --- it never went together again, but I learned a ton in the process! When I was an undergrad, I started realizing how much creativity and outside-the-box thinking goes into engineering, and I’ve been able to integrate my other passions (design, music, photography … even craft cocktails!) into my work over the years.
Q: How did you know about the Silicon Labs Community?
While there are other places on the internet where smart people talk shop, the Silicon Labs Community is the only place that’s focused on specific Silicon Labs parts; it’s also the best place to snag an opinion from an employee at SiLabs – while I occasionally use the support ticketing mechanism, I find the forums are a little less stiff, and I like that other people who have the same question as I do can find the answers without opening their own support tickets. Saves everyone time!
Q: What features, products, services would you like to see in the future from Silicon Labs?
I was happy to see Silicon Labs commit heavily to the new EFM8 designs when they were introduced a few years ago. These 8-bit MCUs seem to be the perfect choice in so many of the projects I’ve worked on, so I’d love to see them keep innovating. For example, it’s one of the few 8-bit MCUs that has an internally-generated 1.8V core voltage --- a feature more familiar in high-end, modern ARM MCUs. I hope to see SiLabs continue to bring modern MCU design philosophy to their CIP-51 core EFM8s in the years to come!
Q: What advice would you give to someone new to the community?
Be bold, clear, funny, and compassionate – no matter what you’re talking about. There’s a lot of people from all over the world on the forums, with all sorts of different backgrounds. There’s university students who have no idea what a “pull-up resistor” is, and there’s old, crusty EEs that have been around the block once or twice before. When you ask a question, be compassionate toward the people from whom you’re asking for help, and try to frame your post so an outsider to your project would understand. When you’re answering someone’s question, understand that in addition to a knowledge gap, there could be a language or cultural barrier as well. Whatever you do, be bold, and make 'em laugh. We’re all in this together – might as well have fun while we’re at it, right?
Q: Thanks for answering the questions. Any final comment?
I don’t think so – this was fun! Thanks!
With 15 years’ experience in 802.15.4 networking and more than 100 million mesh devices shipped, we’re bringing our extensive expertise to bear on helping developers simplify mesh design and take advantage of the opportunities that many-to-many networking bring to the IoT market.
Today we’re announcing a comprehensive suite of software and hardware supporting the new Bluetooth mesh specification. Our new software and SDK for Bluetooth development supports Bluetooth mesh and Bluetooth 5 functionality so developers can add mesh communication to low energy devices.
The Benefits of Mesh Networking
Mesh networking, which is now available for Bluetooth low energy devices, enables many-to-many (m:m) communication. This makes it ideally suited for creating large-scale node networks and great for building and smart home automation, asset tracking, and sensor networks. With building and smart homes, for example, devices can communicate directly with each other, so flipping on a light switch no longer involves routing communication through a router or gateway. End-consumers already know what it’s like to flip a switch and have a light come on instantly, so moving to a smart system needs to be able to duplicate that experience without any perceived lag. As we see more and more mainstream adoption of smart home applications, user experience is critical to growth in the market.
For lighting systems, deployment and management can be simplified with mesh. The extended connectivity range means lights can be deployed at a greater distance from a hub vs a star network. A hub or gateway can be placed in one location and connected lights deployed. As each light is deployed the range of communication grows, allowing a single gateway to effectively cover a larger area.
Beaconing is another area where mesh networking offers significant performance benefits. Used for retail marketing or asset tracking, beacons can be more easily managed with a mesh network because they are not required to be within range of a phone.
How We Can Help
Our certified modules, including the world’s smallest Bluetooth SiP module (BGM11S), can help accelerate time-to-market and maintain software compatibility with the latest EFR32BG13 Blue Gecko SoCs. With Blue Gecko SoCs, companies can bring products to market that take advantage of the full capabilities of Bluetooth 5 and Bluetooth mesh connectivity and support over-the-air (OTA) updates with on-chip memory.
Silicon Labs' Blue Gecko Bluetooth Wireless Starter Kit provides you with Bluetooth 5 and Bluetooth mesh connectivity with the on-board EFR32BG13 SoC as has debug capabilities over USB and Ethernet providing an uncompromised developer experience. We also provide developers with a Bluetooth mesh stack for Android, which allows smart phones to provision, configure, and control mesh nodes. And since we provide the mesh stack, customers do not need to write this again, further simplifying development and accelerating time-to-market.
Other features include:
For more information about Silicon Labs’ Bluetooth mesh development tools, software stack, SoCs, modules and starter kits, visit www.silabs.com/bluetooth-mesh.
Title: Extending Bluetooth with Mesh Networking (EMEA)
Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM Central European Summer Time
Duration: 1 hour
Mesh networking is a new topology available for Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) devices that enable many-to-many (m:m) communications. It's optimized for creating large-scale node networks and ideally suited for lighting, home automation, and asset tracking. Bluetooth mesh benefits many IoT systems with its ability to reduce system power consumption, extend communication range, increase scalability, improve network reliability, and optimize device-to-device communication responsiveness.
Join this webinar on September 13, 2017 at 10:00 AM to learn more about Bluetooth LE mesh networking and how to get started with development. We'll have a live Q&A session at the end.
Title: Selecting the Right Mesh Technology for Your Application (EMEA)
Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM Central European Summer Time
Duration: 1 hour
Mesh network topologies are ideal for many IoT systems due to their ability to reduce system power consumption, extend communication range, increase scalability, improve network reliability, and optimize communication responsiveness. A number of mesh networking protocols are commercially available today including Bluetooth Mesh, Thread, and zigbee.
There are many applications where mesh networks can provide benefits to the overall system, business, and consumer. Notable applications that can utilize mesh networking include asset tracking, beaconing, home & building automation, lighting, and smart metering.
In this webinar, we compare different mesh networking protocols and discuss the criteria you should consider when selecting the right approach for your design, including the role of solution ecosystems and wireless security.
In recent years, the growing wave of Internet of Things (IoT) applications has spread to many highly specialized market segments, including industrial automation, intelligent retail, intelligent logistics, and intelligent transportation, which are all blue ocean markets with high expectations. However, the solutions needed for these various segments have something in common: they all require a very stable and secure network architecture with multiple nodes and low power consumption.
To overcome this complex technical challenge, M2COMM, a leading provider of low power consumption IoT communication technologies, has developed its own proprietary protocol, called Platanus. Boasting a battery life of 5-10 years, Platanus provides a reliable network physical layer solution for intelligent retail and logistics systems by taking advantage of outstanding RF sensitivity and linearity technologies and ultra-low power consumption EZRadio PRO series Sub-GHz RF transceivers from Silicon Labs. This protocol is poised to greatly accelerate the commercialization of IoT technologies.
We were given an opportunity recently to interview Dr. Derrick Wei, CEO of M2COMM. We asked for his observations on specialized IoT applications and overall technological developments to help us see IoT business opportunities from another angle.
Please tell us about your experience and unique perspective regarding the IoT market and product design.
IoT is an application concept involving many fields, with high vertical integration and highly compatible software and hardware. People started discussing IoT as early as 2008, but the IoT market is still in its infancy. Compared to IoT applications in consumer electronics, such as wearable devices and B2C business models, I think it is easy to see the commercial value of specialized IoT market segments, including logistics, retail, industrial and B2B applications, and they are very likely to take off rapidly.
The key problem in IoT applications is the stability and reliability of the network physical layer, which is even more important for system integrators and service vendors in certain market segments. M2COMM, ever since its initial involvement in the IoT market, has targeted the intelligent retail and logistics segments, which have highly anticipated business opportunities. It has specialized in overcoming various network communication protocol challenges, and developed a proprietary protocol which is highly reliable, supports massive numbers of nodes, and features low power consumption.
What sets M2COMM’s company culture apart, what makes its strategies unique in IoT markets?
M2COMM was founded in 2012. We specialize in developing unique, multifunctional WLAN and LPWAN wireless communication protocols with low power consumption. Currently, we have offices in Taiwan and France to provide products and technical support for our customers. Our mission is to use our solid technical foundation to create a highway for IoT applications so as to bring togehter our partners into a brand-new IoT era.
Just as IoT is an application concept with high vertical integration and mutually compatible software and hardware, naturally, team work and close cooperation becomes the company culture of M2COMM. Within the company, software and hardware developers must synchronize their steps, and software and hardware engineers must work closely together. Outside the company, we are eager to vertically cooperate with the value chain, from network communication protocols to wireless communication modules, end-user solutions, and cloud services, to co-build the IoT ecosystem.
M2COMM has already implemented its proprietary hive-type low power consumption communication protocol (Platanus) in the Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) system, and has developed Uplynx, a highly integrated wireless communication SoC for the Sigfox standard, which has greatly shortened the design time for manufacturers and achieved unprecedented success in the specialized intelligent retail market segment.
Tell us about the features and advantages of IoT products marketed by M2COMM and their benefits to IoT applications.
M2COMM has focused on mid-distance IoT (IoT LAN) and low power WAN (LPWAN) wireless communication technologies that both work in Sub-GHz frequency bands with or without authentication, ideal for connecting intelligent devices to the Internet. The LPWAN technology allows communication distances of several meters to 10 km, and offers the stability of a telecom network. The power consumption of IoT LAN is less than one-third that of Bluetooth Low Energy protocol, so you could say they are designed specifically for IoT use cases.
Recently, the Uplynx wireless communication chip M2COMM designed for the Sigfox standard passed Sigfox certification in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and Asia, which is not only an important milestone for worldwide application of LPWAN communication chips, but also marks the beginning of the global adoption of a single IoT design.
Uplynx is a highly integrated wireless communication chip that is specifically designed for Sigfox and its ecosystem partners and vendors, fulfilling their requirements of low cost, low power consumption, and small size. Such requirements were consequently reflected in the reference designs for certification, in which Uplynx uses a quartz oscillator instead of TCXO to allow its output power to reach 22 dBM without any extra power amplifiers. What is more, the built-in powerful 32-bit micro-control unit (MCU), 128 KB flash and 24 KB RAM in this chip, with a size of only 7×7 mm, provide ample computation capacity and application flexibility for developers. In addition, system manufacturers can produce products for different regions by designing only one PCB board when using the certified Uplynx chip, which will greatly shorten the design time and reduce problems in product management.
Building on the above efforts and product lines, M2COMM has also developed ELSA, a wireless electronic shelf labeling system with the smallest size and lowest power consumption in the world, utilizing the EZRadio PRO series Sub-GHz RF transceivers from Silicon Labs. Not only can this product provide a battery life of over 50 years, but it also fulfills the requirements of networks with large numbers of nodes. We believe that it will be very popular in the retail and logistics segments for its small size makes it easy to install and maintain.
Using its hive-type communication protocol Platanus, M2COMM built the ELSA wireless electronic labeling system in 2014. It shows excellent performance in data transmission and ultra-low power consumption. The brand-new ELSA also performs better in terms of software and hardware compatibility, system stability, and multi-node management, thereby allowing corner retail shops to enjoy the convenience and efficiency of the Retail 4.0 era.
Among the new ELSA series of products, the ELSA integrated access point (iAP) is the world's smallest electronic labeling AP, with dimensions of 100 x 68 x 25 mm. The combination of a retail store’s intranet and an ELSA router (iRT) is all that is needed to manage all data transmissions effectively within 30,000 square meters, an area equal to six soccer fields, without needing to go through the store’s computer or other servers. The compact iAP provides an SD card slot on the side for backing up of the store's data, and a flexible magnet on the back for fast and easy installation.
Both iAP and iRT can operate in WiFi-only environments, and include backup batteries to maintain stable data transmission during power outages. However, the function of intelligent electronic labeling should not be limited to showing prices on demand or updating labels. ELSA also provides cloud applications to let business owners easily manage and monitor all their installed electronic labels, making retail business operation more immediate and efficient.
What Silicon Labs solutions are you using now? What specific functional advantages have they provided for your products?
We have adopted the EZRadioPRO series Si4460 and Si4464 RF transceivers from Silicon Labs. They operate in Sub-GHz bands of 119–1,050 MHz, performing excellently across many RF performance indicators, such as linearity and sensitivity.
Please share your views on the future of IoT and the future focus of M2COMM
We think the focus of IoT will be on business and industrial applications in the near future, such as intelligent logistics and intelligent retail and industrial automation. More and more B2B business models will surface in the IoT market. Today, the development of logistics in Mainland China is sophisticated. The next stage will be intelligent logistics applications for intelligent management and wireless ESL tracking, which will create another huge wave of business opportunities.
In terms of intelligent retail, ESL will play a key role in the Retail 4.0 revolution. ESL will not only allow store owners to update product prices instantly upon stock quantities and bidding status, but also significantly reduce human errors in updating prices. Store employees, therefore, can serve the customer more attentively to increase customer satisfaction.
For the convenience of more retail store owners, M2COMM’s ESL system can be integrated with all POS systems in the market. In addition, M2COMM's ESL system promises an over 5 years service life with just an ordinary button battery, and is a very sustainable and environment friendly solution. We are dedicated to providing the most excellent IoT solutions to our customers, enabling our clients and consumers to enjoy better retail environments and services.
In the next phase, we plan to expand the application of our proprietary wireless communication protocols, IoT SoC and modules, and wireless Electronic Shelf Label system into the new filed, the factory automation market.