Wow, what a great event our first-ever Works With smart home developer conference was! It was simply awesome to see so many companies and industry sectors all coming together under one virtual roof to learn and discuss all things smart home and IoT.
With more than 6,000 registered attendees, seven excellent keynote speakers, and a ton of high quality developer-oriented educational sessions, there was a LOT to take in at Works With. Fortunately, anything you may have missed is available to see replayed on-demand via the Works With site so long as your register (which is free). In every session I visited, the live Q&A on Slack was very busy - a great sign that Works With attendees were fully engaged with the content.
I was fortunate enough to be able to experience many different aspects of the Works With event, and three big themes stood out:
Ease of Development
Being able to easily and efficiently reuse development effort on one project when starting the next project came up in many places during the conference, not least of which was in the Amazon keynote. When companies develop scalable, versatile platforms that work on standards and incorporate common API's and/or data flows, this effectively enables developers to focus their valuable time on adding innovation in the areas that are most important to them and their products. That is how truly special products are made!
Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) generated a lot of interest, as the Zigbee Alliance project is a big deal in making interoperability easier to achieve across smart home devices. The project now has 145 member companies and over 1,300 people around the globe participating and contributing to its mission. The project has an open approach to development - open project and open source (all on GitHub), so it's very easy to access and start to engage with.
The first devices CHIP is focused on include smart lighting, HVAC controls, window covers/shades, gateways, and others to build momentum in both smart home and smart buildings. Sujata Neidig, who represented Project CHIP in a Works With panel discussion hosted by Stacey on IoT's Stacey Higginbotham, announced that we should expect to see the first products built on CHIP appear in the market this time next year. Be sure to check out our EFR Series 2 parts to get your CHIP development going!
The standardized models in Project CHIP should make it much easier for device manufacturers to build connected products that can fit very well into a wide variety of use cases and ecosystems. This means it becomes so much easier for consumers to choose what to buy and to get their smart home devices up and running instantly. That's a big win-win for everyone!
Another one of the sessions I joined on interoperability was on the Google technical track, called "Introduction to Google Ecosystem." It was great to see how easy it is now to create a door lock example running on our EFR32MG21 development platform using OpenWeave and seamlessly integrate that into the Google Ecosystem. It truly demonstrates how these initiatives, like Project CHIP, are revolutionary in terms of interoperability.
We've now established that easy development and reuse of technology combined with interoperability leads to rapid growth in the IoT and to building things we can't even imagine yet. BUT - consumers must be confident IoT devices can be trusted to keep their personal information private and secure, which in turn means that the security embedded in these connected products has to be strong.
Getting IoT security right is a big deal and doing so successfully is not an easy thing to achieve. At Silicon Labs, we have been investing in IoT security for quite some years as we saw the need for this coming. In a keynote from our head of IoT, Matt Johnson, Works With attendees heard about our EFR32 Series 2 devices earning both Arm's PSA-2 and IoXt Alliance's SmartCert IoT security certifications. For PSA-2, the EFR32MG21 with Secure Vault is the first wireless SoC ever to achieve this level of certification! We are committed to making security accessible and easy for developers to implement by embracing standards and leading the way for secure IoT connectivity. In doing so, we believe more and more IoT developers will include security by default into their products, thus making it easier for consumers to trust their data is safe in an IoT device.
Another highlight for me was the opening keynote on Works With Day 2 with Ring founder and CEO Jamie Siminoff. It was great listening to his story and the passion he has for advancing IoT and making a positive impact on the way we all live. Jamie shared the latest on Amazon's Sidewalk effort, which stands out as a great example of how IoT can improve the way we live. Jamie described Sidewalk as a 10+ year project for Amazon, which builds on the idea of neighborhood: sharing with neighbors but with an IoT tech twist: the more connected devices your neighbors have in the network, the more everyone benefits. I loved the 'Fetch' example Jamie shared, which is an Amazon ultra-low-power play to be able to track your dog throughout the neighborhood if it escapes! Nodes around the neighborhood track and help pet owners locate their lost dog. To me, this is a simple yet really tangible way of showing how IoT tech, such as 'roaming' within Sidewalk, helps to make the IoT super-valuable to us all.
These past two days have been jam-packed with a ton of great content, and I want to thank all the people and teams involved in preparing and presenting the material. From our internal marketing and apps teams, our design partners, and our customers - all have played a huge role in making this event such a great success! But I'd also be remiss if I didn't give a massive shout out to the Silicon Labs production team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to evolve what was originally planned as a big 'in-person' event into a huge virtual one! We ended up connecting a much bigger audience than initially planned by going virtual. We did so in a very slick, easy to consume way - bringing together all parts of the IoT industry and fostering great collaboration and innovation in a space that's more relevant now than ever before.
What we are doing at Silicon Labs is striving to make everything work with everything and do so in a way that has a positive impact on everyone's quality of life. We are THE place to go if you want to enable IoT connectivity, and we'd love to talk with you about how we can help bring your next IoT products come to life. If you'd like to start that conversation, we are waiting to hear from you. Simply send us a note here, and we'll be in touch!