The future of the IoT is open, seamless and secure.
We welcome the launch of the Connected Home over IP project and strongly support the working group dedicated to developing and promoting a new, open-source wireless protocol designed to increase compatibility among smart home products, with IP connectivity and IoT security being foundational design elements.
We are committed to advancing open wireless technologies and platforms for the IoT. We look forward to working with the Zigbee Alliance and fellow board members including IKEA, Legrand, NXP, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (Philips Hue), Somfy and Wulian to drive the success of the Connected Home over IP project.
As a Zigbee Alliance board member, we will contribute to the project to create a new IP-based protocol enabling secure, reliable and seamless smart home connectivity. We encourage everyone in the smart home industry to get behind this much-needed project aimed to simplify development for IoT device manufacturers and increase ecosystem compatibility for consumers everywhere.
Today Silicon Labs and Z-Wave Alliance announced plans to open the Z-Wave protocol, making it available to all silicon and stack suppliers. This change allows semiconductor and software developers to join the Z-Wave ecosystem, contribute to advancements of the Z-Wave standard and develop and supply sub-GHz Z-Wave radio devices and software stacks.
Releasing access to Z-Wave furthers our commitment to IoT standardization by expanding the smart home ecosystem and giving multiple vendors access to broader technology support and accelerated market adoption. Z-Wave has the most mature and pervasive smart home ecosystem in the market, with more than 100 million interoperable devices deployed, more than 3,200 certified products and over 700 member companies.
The Z-Wave Alliance will become a standards development organization for the Z-Wave Specification and will continue to manage the Z-Wave Certification program.
We will continue to invest in Z-Wave technology and contribute to its growth. The Z-Wave Specification is expected to be available in the second half of 2020. For more information, see our press release and website.
IoT product developers are under constant pressure to reduce time to market. Being first to market with a new connected product can provide first-mover advantages, but developers should not compromise on key aspects to achieve that goal. That’s a big part of why we launched xGM210x Series 2 pre-certified modules. Developers can accelerate time to market by several months when they take advantage of highly integrated modules that come complete with global regulatory certifications and important, brand protecting features such as device security.
Simplifying IoT Development
Series 2 Modules enable faster and easier IoT development for smart building, industrial IoT, and smart lighting applications. Designed to optimize the performance of resource-constrained IoT products without requiring functionality tradeoffs, the Series 2 portfolio decreases the time, cost, and risk factors through the availability of a suite of development tools including the Simplicity Studio design environment, software stacks that have a proven track record in large deployments, support personnel, and security capabilities integrated into the modules.
Securing IoT Wireless Devices
The enhanced security features, implemented in the Series 2 modules, enable developers to use modern and highly robust security features in their IoT products.
Taking Advantage of the xGM210P
xGM210P is a broad-based module optimized for line powered IoT applications in smart home, building automation, and industrial IoT. With a long RF range, dedicated security core, and large flash memory, the broad-based module is perfect for smart HVAC, building, and factory automation systems.
When integrating the xGM210P, the high temperature rating of up to 125°C allows the module to function in demanding environmental conditions such as solar baking in utility meter applications. The module’s low profile also makes it perfect for space-constrained IoT designs particularly in smart home applications including smart light bulbs, fixtures, LED strips, dimmers, fire alarms, and power sockets.
Optimizing Smart Lighting with xGM210L
The xGM210L is designed and built for smart LED bulbs and allows developers to add wireless connectivity to LED light bulbs in an easier fashion. One key optimization is the inclusion of a 6-pin header, which enables horizontal and vertical mounting, an interface for power, and pulse width modulation (PWM) for LED temperature and dimming control. The 125°C high temperature rating ensures correct operation despite the harsh operating conditions and compliance with California Title 20 ensures low power reduces wasted power. Developers can design dimmable, color tunable smart LED lightbulbs that support Bluetooth mesh, Thread, Zigbee or multiprotocol connectivity. Extensive global regulatory certifications make developing with the xGM210L cost-efficient through saving development cycles. By enabling smart lighting with robust, scalable mesh networking, consumers can control lights through a smartphone and adjust lighting settings while away from their home.To learn more about how our new Series 2 Modules can reduce development cost and accelerate time-to-market for your IoT designs, visit our Series 2 Module page.
Despite the obvious convenience and efficiency benefits of smart home technologies, home automation gifting for non-savvy technology buyers has sometimes been challenging. The smart home products of yesterday were often too complicated to install for gift recipients or required professional installation. Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY) with technical backgrounds might appreciate receiving a smart home gift, but the average consumer may be overwhelmed by the prospect of installing a smart home product, not to mention figuring out how to connect it with other existing devices within the home.
Fortunately, times are changing – fast. Smart home ecosystem companies have significantly stepped up collaboration in recent years with two primary goals in mind: 1) simplify the products; and 2) make it easier for devices to all work with each other. Anyone familiar with the smart home market knows technology ecosystem players have been diligently working for years to improve product interoperability. But finally, after more than a decade of figuring out the plumbing, smart home companies are now spending more resources on improving the product user and installation experience.
Shop In-Store, Not Online
The best way to see this for yourself is to walk into a retail store such as a Best Buy, IKEA or Walmart. This year brick and mortar retailers have realized the consumer appeal of seeing the home automation products up close and in-person; therefore, in-store demos have increased dramatically. In fact, brick and mortar retailers are starting to see an uptick in smart home sales purchases in-store versus online because of the value of hands-on product displays, such as the Nest thermostat.
Another emerging shopping venue this year is smart home house parties. Similar in theme to Tupperware parties of the past, the idea behind these events is to get more people exposed to seeing how the products work inside a person’s real home. Granted, we may be running out of time to receive smart home house party invitations before the holidays, but this is a new way to buy products and something to consider for the future.
2.4 GHz vs. sub-GHz Considerations
Although it’s not visible to homeowners, many homes have a good amount of data traffic running across Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radio frequency bands, through music speakers, office computers, video games or Netflix movies. All of this data traffic uses the 2.4 GHz band, meaning traffic congestion or interference occurs regularly, sometimes resulting in sluggish performance, product or Internet latency or inoperable devices. However, vendors are working hard to ensure all of these 2.4 GHz devices, whether they use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee or Thread, can coexist with the other. So, while there is lots going on behind the scenes with 2.4 GHz technologies, for users, it just works.
That being said, when you set out to purchase smart home products, if your household typically has a good deal of Internet traffic on a regular basis, it may be worthwhile to look for products that run on sub-GHz. Years ago, the sub-GHz frequency band was more crowded in the home, due to cordless phones and other wireless devices that used this band. However, with migration to 2.4 GHz and even higher frequencies, sub-GHz has become a quieter radio spectrum in the home and offers easier transmission and fewer retries for data and devices running across it. Fewer transmissions made over a radio frequency results in less power used, ultimately saving battery power for smart home devices. Another potential benefit of sub-GHz is it offers longer wireless range across the house. As radio waves pass through walls, fences, closets, etc., the signal weakens (as we have all experienced with Wi-Fi). Higher frequency bands weaken more quickly when transmissions run into obstacles, meaning the 2.4GHz signal, a higher frequency band than sub-GHz, loses its strength faster due to physical barriers, though it often overcomes this issue by transmitting at a higher output power.
Wizard of Oz Integration
As complicated as that all may sound, the takeaway for a smart home shopper is sub-GHz smart home products are more reliable, robust and energy efficient, if you have a good amount of traffic occurring in your household. The Ring Protect System, built on Silicon Labs’ Z-Wave technology, is a good example of a smart home product that has leveraged the performance benefits of sub-GHz. It has also become so easy to use that no technical skills are required. All you need to do is take it out of the box and plug it in.
The collaboration within the industry among smart home vendors, manufacturers, cloud companies and hardware and software companies is now starting to pay off. Some may consider the new user-friendly products magic when they experience their ease of use, but the real genius lies in the relentless and complex work of technological integration across the entire smart home ecosystem of companies. In fact, most users don’t care whether it is sub-GHz technologies, like Z-Wave, or 2.4 GHz technologies, such as Bluetooth Low Energy or Zigbee. What they are really looking for is that it “works with Alexa” or “works with the Google Assistant.” That phrase is one of the keys to ensuring products work with each other and are easier to use than ever before, meaning even the most technically challenged family member this year is a candidate for a smart home gift.