Today, Silicon Labs kicked off its first-ever smart home developer event, Works With 2020, featuring industry experts and leading engineers sharing the latest in smart home technology development. Works With is the first of its kind to host developers and ecosystem partners, delivering 40 engineering-led session and 15 workshops to aid developers with designing, prototyping, and getting their products to market. When Silicon Labs imagined Works With, it wasn’t envisioned as a livestreamed event, but shifting to virtual allowed more than 5,000 developers from all over the world to participate.
Silicon Labs CEO, Tyson Tuttle, kicked off the event by diving into Silicon Labs’ vision to build a smarter, more connected world. With the current global pandemic, now more than ever, people are depending on IoT technology to stay connected – to work, to fun, and to each other. The creative ideas of developers are key to the success of the smart home industry.
Tyson went on to speak about Works With being the “Smart Home Hub” – a place where major platform players, protocol experts, and alliance partners unite to help developers navigate smart home technology. The event is designed to bring together all developers, no matter their level of expertise, and provide the know-how and best practices to get certified smart home products to market quicker. Tyson welcomed Silicon Labs IoT SVP and GM Matt Johnson to the keynote stage where he spoke to Grant Erickson, Jim Kitchen, and Joshua Danovitz, who are leading efforts at their respective companies, Google, Comcast, and Amazon, to pioneer a smoother development journey and break through the standards fragmentation in order to bring new and differentiated features to consumers.
After the keynote, attendees broke out into a variety of technical sessions, including workshops on designing products that work with Amazon, Google, HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings ecosystems. During the sessions, developers had the opportunity to hear directly from engineering experts about the latest and greatest in smart home development. The sessions also gave developers the opportunity to learn how to acquire industry-recognized certifications for their products.
Panel – Building an Ecosystem IoT Developers Will Love
During lunch, technology journalist and IoT thought-leader Stacey Higginbotham (of Stacey on IoT) hosted a panel with leaders from NXP, ADT, Philips Hue, Ikea and Assa Abloy where they discussed how the smart home industry is coming together and how it will continue to evolve.
The panel discussed at length the emphasis on matters related to security and user experience, and one of the main points was the focus on leveraging the IP investment companies have already made. Being able to use existing IP bearing networks and shifting development resources to focus on actually innovating on new features that add value and simplify adoption for consumers.
Panelists also touched on some of the biggest obstacles developers face in bringing their products to market, including the effort required to support so many different protocols and delivering consistent user experiences across brands. Answering these challenges will provide developers with the confidence to build new, more sophisticated feature sets that create better experiences and simplify adoption.
In the midst of all of the Works With buzz and excitement, we made two major announcements – the launch of a new Simplicity Studio and BGM220.
Simplicity Studio 5 is a major upgrade to our Integrated Developer Environment (IDE), leveraging our industry leading IoT wireless expertise. Simplicity Studio 5 offers the same access and developer experience across a wide range of wireless protocols, all within a central web-style user interface. The software platform is scalable to multiple protocols including OpenThread, making it simpler to develop IPv6 based mesh applications and paving the way for future development of Project Connected Home over IP-based devices running on our EFR32 Wireless Gecko. Learn more about Simplicity Studio 5.
BGM220, combines our award-winning BG22 Bluetooth system-on-chip (SoC) devices, a pre-certified module and production-ready firmware with an on-board Bluetooth stack, application layer, and secure boot-loading functionality. Bluetooth Xpress BGX220P/S provides complete IoT solutions with framework libraries, making it easier and faster for developers to create new apps, with no Bluetooth expertise necessary. Click here for more information about BGM220.
After a full day of learning and great conversations, we’re excited to give you a sneak peak of what to expect tomorrow. Join Silicon Labs Senior Vice President and General Manager for IoT, Matt Johnson, as he sits down with Jamie Siminoff, Founder and Chief Inventor of Ring. Jamie will share his story of creating what is now a dominant name in Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbells. His story is one of tenacity and patience, and his vision for Ring’s future after being acquired by Amazon is as ambitious as it is promising. You can catch the Day 2 Keynote on Thursday, September 10, at 9:00 a.m. CDT. Click here to register.
After the keynote, we have a cornucopia of how-to sessions including workshops on LED-bulb , door lock and sensor product development, energy harvesting, home automation, environmental sensing and more. Our From Chip to Cloud: Building the Whole Product session will answer questions about commissioning, security and authentication to front-end and back-end application interfaces. You can also join our sessions on IoT security, covering the need for the development of security requirements tailored to each vertical device type. Build out your Day 2 agenda here. We look forward to seeing you there! If you can’t make the live stream you can watch replays here.
Just as wireless devices are connecting millions all over the world to work, do home tasks, and play through smart home electronics, today is Silicon Labs' first day to connect the IoT developer community with the smart home platform and protocol leaders moving this exciting space forward.
Silicon Labs Works With virtual smart home developer conference starts today, and we welcome the thousands of developers and smart home IoT fans who have registered to immerse themselves in our keynotes, workshops, and technical tracks - most likely from the comfort of your own smart home.
"It's exciting to see our vision of building a smarter, more connected world come alive at the industry's first Works With smart home developer conference," said Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle. "With our decades of wireless experience, a solid investment in IoT, and proven leadership in the smart home component market, Silicon Labs is uniquely positioned to educate developers and accelerate industry collaboration across protocols, smart home ecosystems, design houses, distributors and developers."
Silicon Labs plays a key connector role in IoT through our broad portfolio of wireless multiprotocol hardware and software solutions. We are proud to connect you to smart home industry leaders, technical training sessions, one-on-one developer meetings, and more. Speakers from companies like Amazon, Comcast, Google, Tuya, Silicon Labs, and others will train attendees to design and deliver certified IoT solutions that "work with" any smart home ecosystem or wireless protocol.
Here's what to expect from Works With 2020, kicking off today at 10:00 AM EDT|7:00 AM PDT and running through tomorrow, September 10.
Be the first to hear the latest announcements and innovations from industry leaders shaping the future of IoT development. Our president and CEO, Tyson Tuttle, and our SVP of IoT, Matt Johnson, get things started today with a welcome keynote and panel session featuring some of the world's most influential smart home leaders, including Grant Erickson, Principal Software Engineer at Google; Jim Kitchen, Vice President of Connected Home Devices and Platforms at Comcast; and Joshua Danovitz, General Manager of Amazon Common Software (ACS). Each representative will share their company's vision for the smart home and discuss how IoT developers can better design new products for each of their established and growing ecosystems.
IoT devotees and developers will also want to tune-in today at 2:00 PM EDT|11:00 AM PDT for a panel discussion led by Stacey Higginbotham, veteran technology journalist and host of the popular Stacey on IoT podcast. Stacey will be joined by Mark Reimer, Vice President of Product Engineering at ADT; Martin Huddart, Head of Smart Residential Solutions at ASSA ABLOY; Per Sigurdson, Development Leader - Home Smart at IKEA; Sujata Neidig, Marketing Director at NXP; and George Yianni, Head of Technology at Philips Hue. The group will discuss topics such as the highly anticipated Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), as well as the smart home industry's overall efforts to give developers the hardware and software interoperability they need to meet consumers' expectations. The opportunities to grow the smart home market are great, but so are some of the challenges. This group will cover that ground.
Tomorrow, our flagship keynote features none other than Jamie Siminoff, Founder and Chief Inventor of Ring. Matt Johnson will join Jamie, and the two will discuss Jamie's experience inventing Ring, what's happening across the growing Ring ecosystem, and Amazon's promising Sidewalk effort.
You can see the full list of today's and tomorrow's speakers here: workswith.silabs.com/agenda.
Join developers from around the world at more than 40 industry breakout sessions over the next two days. Experienced designers will lead you through technical deep dives and advanced training on topics like security, energy harvesting, battery life, cloud computing, and environmental sensing. Smart home engineers are teaching hands-on workshop sessions using the latest technologies to build real-world devices, including smart locks, sensors, lightbulbs, and switches. To really hone in on your specific product goals, Amazon, Google, Apple HomeKit, Samsung, and Z-Wave are all leading specialized technology tracks and hosting one-on-one developer meetings to share best practices on building certified products.
Works With is a hub for all parts of the smart home ecosystem to connect.
Platform Partners: Amazon, Apple HomeKit, Google, Tuya
Protocol Experts: Bluetooth, ioXt, Project CHIP, Thread, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave
Enablement Partners: Darwin Tech, Connected Development, eInfochips, JASCO and Paragon Innovations
Global Channel Partners: Arrow, Mouser Electronics, Symmetry Electronics, TTI
Device Developers: thousands of engineers from leading companies across the IoT ecosystem,
including Qolsys – a Johnson Controls company
The comprehensive IoT hardware, software and development tools, and platforms we are demonstrating at Works With simplify connected product design and enable IoT device makers to get their products to market quickly. These products are competitively advantaged with cutting-edge wireless features that consume minimal energy, include state-of-the-art security, and easily scale across any smart home ecosystem, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and Tuya Smart, as well as across multiple wireless protocols such as Bluetooth, Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), Thread, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and proprietary.
Be sure to check the Works With Newsroom to stay on top of breaking IoT smart home news from Silicon Labs and the company's sponsors, partners, and customers.
Log On To access the Works With sessions live or on-demand, register here.
If already registered, simply login to Works With and navigate to the agenda. Locate the desired sessions and click "Join Broadcast."
For consumers, commercial and automotive engineers, and their peers on Internet of Things (IoT) design teams, developing IoT applications is exciting, hard work. Challenges and opportunities abound, from sourcing, connecting, and cleaning data; prioritizing applications for exploration; to building new solutions to solve critical pain points; and scaling efforts using industry platforms. Consumer IoT has obviously set the pace with connected home applications, with commercial and automotive IoT following the lead. Now, the rollout of 5G will make these sacrifices worthwhile. By offering high-speed connectivity, 5G will allow IoT to achieve lift-off, opening the door to decades of dazzling innovation to come.
To understand cross-industry plans for IoT, TE Connectivity (TE) conducted an IoT market survey, receiving 180 responses from primarily senior engineers. Here’s what they said:
5G solves critical challenges, enabling companies to capture diverse types of data and move data faster. These advances, paired with lower consumption IoT devices and miniaturized components, will open the door to more applications over time.
More innovation is needed, with 57% of engineers seeking greater hardware endurance advances, 52% wanting to tie measurement accuracy with measurement stability, 46% needing better sensor intelligence, 31% looking to boost processing speeds, and 16% hoping to leverage cloud analytics.
Three issues predominate with solution design, with 49% citing finding the right hardware and connectivity as challenges to address, while 44% cited ensuring effective security as a leading requirement.
Solution design begins with hardware, with 78% of engineers specifying hardware first, and only 22% beginning with software.
TE Connectivity stands ready to help you with your IoT application. We provide a wide array of sensor solutions and data connectivity products to help you capture and transmit data at high speeds to unlock the power of the connected world.
To help you with your IoT journey and solution consideration, we have created the following resources:
The rapid development of technologies such as 5G and the IoT offer greater openness and the need for businesses to expand their capabilities. Collaboration is often a path forward to gaining the speed, and scale companies seek.
TE is ready to support you with insight, IoT experience, and a broad sensor portfolio to power your IoT applications. Contact us today to get started.
As organizations seek strategies to keep people safe while balancing the need to operate their businesses, wireless temperature sensors are seen as a way to make processes as contactless as possible. As the world moves into month five of the COVID-19 pandemic and the practicalities of emerging from various stages of safe isolation are being addressed. From essential businesses that have remained operational to schools and universities facing the prospect of returning to classes in the Fall, mitigating the risks that come with large gatherings is at the top of everyone’s list of priorities. Administrators and managers can take appropriate measures, starting with an economical, easy-to-use, and ultra-fast method for detecting potential health risks, to balance the anxiety that comes with possible exposure with the pressures of keeping businesses, schools, cities, and economies up and running.
One way this challenge is being met is through technology. Silicon Labs is excited to be part of a coordinated effort to develop a low-cost, contactless wrist temperature sensor that can be used to determine whether or not an individual is within the acceptable temperature range. Screening individuals for fever is a strategy that’s been deployed by organizations when isolation or social distancing simply isn’t an option. And while there’s so much we don’t know about COVID-19, temperature checks may be an effective way to identify a symptom even before the individual experiences any symptoms.
The TTI Family of Companies (FOC), which includes Connected Development, Symmetry, and Mouser, together with TE Connectivity, have joined forces to develop an open-source, contactless wrist temperature sensor. Cost-effective and easy to use, the temperature sensor is based on the Silicon Labs EFM32 Tiny Gecko TG11 Starter Kit, which is used to collect temperature sensor information from the thermopile and to notify the end-user of results.
The contact sensor is already being used by TTI employees at its warehouse locations where employees entering the facility simply hold their wrist near the sensor. They receive an instant reading of their temperature, which is accompanied by beep noise and a red or green light indicating if they are at or above the acceptable temperature range. Connected Development (CD) designed and prototyped the sensor; they specialize in hardware and software design services. CD tapped into TTI FOC’s extensive network of component distributors and services, with contributions from TTI, Symmetry Electronics, and Mouser Electronics, to develop this open-source design.
In addition to the Silicon Labs Tiny Gecko Starter Kit, the sensor design features a TE TSD305 Digital Thermopile Sensor for temperature measurements, a TDK Piezoelectric Buzzer for audio feedback, and Cree PLCC6 3 in 1 SMD LEDs provide the visual cues. Aside from body temperature, the thermopile sensor can also detect when a person is within range to take a measurement. The Tiny Gecko constantly regulates the thermopile for temperature fluctuations, and if the temperature rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it is assumed that a human body is close by, prompting a measurement cycle to begin. The microcontroller then awaits a consistent measurement, which is achieved by capturing three readings in a row that are within one degree of each other. Once a stable measurement is captured, the temperature is displayed on the starter kit’s LCD. The TDK Piezoelectric Buzzer then sounds, which is accompanied by a green light from the Cree LEDs if the temperature is below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or a long beep with a red LED light if the temperature is higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re considering developing a contact sensor to help bring clarity to the health of your workforce, there are a couple of different ways we can help you realize that goal. The first is during the first-ever Silicon Labs Works With Smart Home Developer Event. David Hoover, VP of Advanced Development at Connected Development, will be presenting a tutorial showing how to interface a TE thermopile sensor with the EFR32xG22 Wireless Gecko Starter Kit, which includes all you need to create a Bluetooth connected device. David will also demonstrate how to use Silicon Labs’ Simplicity Studio to send the resulting temperature to an IOS device using Bluetooth services and characteristics. The first Works With virtual event, taking place on September 9-10, will bring together our ecosystem of partners from Amazon, Google, Samsung, Z-Wave, and more for keynotes, panels, and hands-on workshops.
If you can’t attend the workshop, our friends at Mouser Electronics have developed a detailed, step-by-step technical article on how to develop the contact sensor, calibrate it, and start using it. You can also explore open-source contactless sensor documentation on GitHub.
|Build Your Own Contactless Temperature Sensor Reference Guide|
IoT protocols such as Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Thread, and Bluetooth are all networking technologies that make it possible for IoT products to communicate and work with other platforms, devices, and applications. We rely on these wireless protocols to specify the rules that establish and manage networks and transmit data.
In keeping pace with rapid advances in smart home development, Works With, the smart home developer conference, will feature training and how-to tutorial sessions designed to accelerate IoT development across platforms. With built-in essentials for IoT wireless already implemented into the stack, developers can focus on application development and not spend time worrying about lower-level network details.
To get started with smart home development, check out the featured sessions covering IoT protocols training sessions. But first, we will define what an IoT wireless protocol is.
What is an IoT Wireless Protocol?
IoT wireless protocols specify the rules and formats to manage and transmit data across networks so that devices, gateways, and applications ‘speak’ to each other.
This course will teach engineers how to get started designing products that are capable of connecting with the Samsung SmartThings Ecosystem. This introduction will provide attendees with an overview of how devices can connect to SmartThings using different protocols (Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave), as well as explore some upcoming SmartThings developments on Wednesday, September 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. CDT.
The Z-Wave Technical Track features development and certification components that build upon each other. Attendees will gain a deeper level of understanding of the Simplicity Studio Development Environment and Device Testing for Z-Wave Developers. The session begins with an overview of using Simplicity Studio to develop Z-Wave End Devices (sensors, switches, thermostats, etc.) with a focus on specific features of Simplicity Studio and Z-Wave. Eric Ryherd, a.k.a. “Dr. Z-Wave” will then share some testing and debugging tips learned over his many years of developing Z-Wave products. Eric will describe some hard-to-find “gotchas” and relate several anecdotes from the field that have cost significant time and money.
Certification is a cornerstone of Z-Wave and will continue as Z-Wave becomes an Open Standard. The sessions in this curriculum will cover how certification works, how it is likely to change in the new Standards Development Organization, and how you can use the tools provided to self-test your products. Silicon Labs’ Bettina Roll will lead the certification session on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
The development tracks at Works With by Silicon Labs will require attendees to have a good base understanding of the software development environment. Silicon Labs’ Claudio Filho will walk through how to get started using Simplicity Studio. The attendee will learn the location and usage of the different libraries used for the different ecosystems. They will learn how to program a kit with an example project. The attendee will be better prepared for the development sessions after completing this course. This session is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. CDT.
This course will introduce engineers on how to get started designing products with Bluetooth solutions that can connect with the HomeKit Ecosystem. This session features two parts. The first part is an introduction to provide attendees with a holistic overview of how Bluetooth is used to provide that connectivity. The second part of the course will cover the process that customers must follow to become a recognized and certified device in HomeKit. This session will be held on Wednesday, September 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. CDT.
We look forward to seeing you online and from anywhere in the world at Works With 2020 by Silicon Labs.
Top Three Resources on Wireless Protocols
In this Tech Talk session, Kris Young, Field Applications Engineer for Silicon Labs, talked about the increasing challenges in wireless coexistence, its impacts on IoT application, and how Silicon Labs manage and offer built-in support for solving these challenges. Click here to watch the complete webinar and register now for future Tech Talks. Here are some key points from Kris’ session.
The Wireless Coexistence Challenge
What challenges exist in wireless coexistence? We have an ISM band at 2.4 GHz that’s very heavily used mostly because of different wireless protocols that share or coexist in the same band: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and IEEE 802.15.4 (Zigbee and Thread).
Although these wireless protocols have different modulation schemes, channel frequencies, and bandwidths, they all overlap when co-located, making a signal from one protocol sounds like noise interference to the other protocol. This causes problems in receiving messages between protocols because if the desired received signal is weaker than the noise, the radio is then unable to receive messages properly.
In the past, wireless devices seem to work even without specifically addressing coexistence issues. Unfortunately, ignoring the issues does not work anymore because of the following trends:
Looking further on the impacts of coexistence in IoT device development, we’ve determined two categories:
Get Additional Documentation and Support
Either you want to increase your knowledge of Zigbee Coexistence with Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth Coexistence with Wi-Fi, there are several ways to get started with boosting your understanding of Silicon Labs' wireless coexistence strategies. To get answers for more specific and/or complex questions, and access our Training Resources, Community, Forum, and Knowledge Base Articles, visit our Tech Support page.
In this Tech Talk session, Alfredo Pérez Grovas, IoT Modules Product Manager for Silicon Labs, presented an overview of Silicon Labs’ Wi-Fi Solutions, including the RS9116 from our newly acquired family – Redpine Signals. Click here to watch the complete webinar and register now for future Tech Talks. Here are some key points from Alfredo’s session.
Redpine Signals is Now Part of Silicon Labs
Our recent acquisition of Redpine Signals added a valuable amount of technology and capability into our existing vault of expertise. The acquisition highlights the RS9116 family of chips, which comes from a line of three generations of wireless products from the previous RS9110 (Gen 1) and RS9113 (Gen 2).
Redpine Signals’ brings broad expertise in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth solutions with these products using the key technologies of ultra-low system power, multi-protocol (802.11, BT/BLE 5), and multi-threaded processors. These high-performance solutions come with an embedded wireless and networking software, along with multiple security levels, edge intelligence, and ultra-small form factor. All of these features are ideal for multiple target markets such as smart homes, fitness/wearables, healthcare, and industrial.
Expanding the Silicon Labs Wi-Fi Product Family
Our current portfolio of Wi-Fi solutions consists of two categories: Transceiver SoCs & Modules and Full-Network Co-processor SoCs & Modules. The former comprises our WF200/WFM200S and RS9116 n-Link, while the latter is our RS9116 WiseConnect.
The WF200/WFM200S module operates on 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi along with higher-level network and security stacks running on the host processor, either MCU or MPU. The RS9116 n-Link operates on 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi, as well as BT and BLE 5. This module also runs wireless, network, and security stacks on the host processor (MCU or MPU). The RS9116 WiseConnect runs wireless, network, and security stacks on the RS9116 while the application runs on the host processor (MCU).
IoT Application Examples of the RS9116
What can the RS9116 do to enable your IoT product development? As mentioned, the RS9116 has all the features that could serve multiple markets.
In the world of smart homes, RS9116 uses Wi-Fi communication for local and cloud control of different devices like locks, cameras, thermostats, and others. During installation, BLE communication is used to provision smart home devices to a home’s or site’s Wi-Fi network. This requirement is made possible through the built-in coexistence manager to manage Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE coexistence. The RS9116 also features low current consumption in ultra-low power mode for battery-operated smart home devices, which is ideal for power efficiency and long battery life.
Another area of application for the RS9116 is wearable devices. This application also features ultra-low power consumption for extended battery life. Still, it is slightly different than a typical smart home device because of the simultaneous multi-protocol communication requirements as follows:
Jumpstart Your IoT Product Development Now
Learn how to develop and deploy more powerful, efficient, and secure IoT products with your own BG22 Thunderboard. Register for a free BG22 Virtual Workshop happening every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM CST.
Recently we had the opportunity to speak with Gabi Daniely, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of CoreTigo, an Israeli start-up founded by two wireless engineers with experience from companies such as Texas Instruments and Apple. In the two and a half years since CoreTigo’s inception, the company has driven the IO-Link Consortium to launch a new wireless standard developed specifically for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and mission critical environments. The new IO-Link Wireless protocol helps manufacturing companies solve the universal challenge of reliable wireless solutions fit for harsh industrial requirements on the factory floor for reducing complexity. CoreTigo enables solutions that cannot be implemented with cables, increasing flexibility and mobility and adding intelligence anywhere in the most cost-effective manner. Gabi explains how CoreTigo came about and how early adopters of the standard are using it to improve their manufacturing processes and yields.
Tell me about the origin of CoreTigo, how did the company get its start?
Our two company founders are veterans of the wireless market. Our CEO ran the wireless business unit for Texas Instruments, and our VP of R&D spent time designing and developing wireless solutions at both Texas Instruments and Apple. As wireless experts, they both saw a void in the industrial market for mission-critical wireless networks. Typical wireless networks, such as Zigbee, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, are not designed for meeting the harsh demands at the control, or actuator, level of factory automation. In these environments, machines require low latency, cable-grade reliability, and a deterministic and scalable network to manage dozens of devices within a machine area.
Based on these needs, our founders approached the IO-Link Consortium, and along with its members defined the IO-Link Wireless protocol, a new reliable wireless communication solution tailored for factory automation. With that vision in mind, CoreTigo was able to secure $14 million in Series A funding in 2018, and the IO-Link Wireless standard was officially launched in 2018 with the support of the consortium and many key industrial leading companies.
How are industrial companies using the new wireless protocol?
Machine builders, industrial equipment manufacturers and manufacturing plants are starting to use the protocol across many industrial applications where cabled systems were previously used, which greatly improves the flexibility and agility of the machinery and reduces complexity. Popular areas where IO-Link Wireless solutions are being deployed include transport track systems to reduce changeover and tooling setup time, rotating and dynamic components to add intelligence, machine retrofitting and condition monitoring for pressure, level and flow sensors and end-of-arm devices, such as grippers or vacuum pumps, on robots and collaborative robots to improve flexibility and reduce complexity.
What are the major drivers for industrial connectivity?
Industry 4.0 is the underlying macro trend driving many of the IIoT demands. Companies are seeing the convergence of information technology (IT) with operational factory floor technology and are assessing ways to update their systems and gain major efficiencies. Industrial giants are looking for ways to improve functionality of existing and aging equipment without adding more cables. As we often hear in the industry, cables are the enemy of flexibility and modularity. At the same time, companies are looking to simplify processes while increasing efficiencies as much as possible, and wireless connectivity helps them do this effectively and design new solutions and machines that were not feasible beforehand with cables.
How does Silicon Labs fit into your technology offering?
We are currently using low-power EFR32 Wireless Gecko modules within our TigoAir Low Power modules, which extends IO-Link Wireless to support low power applications even with batteries with a lifetime of 5-10 years. The IO-Link Wireless stack for devices is ready for stack integration with other vendors of industrial equipment and devices. We have plans to eventually deploy Wireless Gecko technology across all of our other solutions. An FCC/CE certified radio module will be ready by the end of the year, thus enabling smoother and faster integrations. Silicon Labs gives us the low-power processing and connectivity we need without adding another MCU or wireless SoC to the architecture, reducing our costs and footprint and keeping the design simple. Silicon Labs’ global support teams in France and Israel. have also provided us great support.
Where do you see IIoT going in the next 5-8 years?
I see a great deal of potential in the future to reduce the complexity associated with industrial manufacturing. Finding easier ways to extract data flow information from industrial processes and connect it with enterprise systems can deliver major efficiency gains for industrial operators. Many companies struggle with successfully pulling data out of the factory floor and visually seeing areas of improvement with enterprise technologies. Then when it’s time to make the improvements, it’s just as difficult to integrate intelligence back onto the factory floor. This is where IoT technology stands to make a tremendous positive impact on the industrial market.
Recently, Tom R. Halfhill, a senior analyst at The Linley Group and a senior editor of Microprocessor Report, contributed a review of our new Wireless Gecko Series 2 SoCs in the June issue of Microprocessor Report. He analyzes key EFR32 Series 2 upgrades and how the next-generation portfolio compares with the EFR32 Series 1 family in areas such as wireless performance, security features, on-chip CPU and package size.
In this report, Halfhill highlights Series 2 security features such as secure boot with Root of Trust and Secure Loader (RTSL) in addition to hardware crypto accelerations with side-channel countermeasures that considerably strengthen resistance to adversary attacks. The report also compares key specifications of EFR32MG21 and EFR32BG21 SoCs, the first products in the Series 2 portfolio. EFR32MG21 supports multiprotocol, Zigbee®, Thread and Bluetooth® mesh networking, and EFR32BG21 is dedicated to Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth mesh connectivity.
Our Wireless Gecko Series 2 portfolio leads a growing crowd of wireless MCUs and SoCs for connected devices. Halfhill compares EFR32MG21 features and performance with several competing products from other large wireless MCU/SoC vendors:
• NXP’s Kinetis K32W0x
• ST Microelectronics’ STM32WB
• Texas Instrument’s SimpleLink CC1352R
Halfhill acknowledges that our new Series 2 portfolio includes the lowest power wireless SoCs on the market while offering the tiniest footprint, boasting a 4 mm x 4 mm surface-mount QFN package with only 32 pins. The SoCs also offer the highest ambient temperature range, making them suitable for applications with extreme heat exposure such as connected LED lighting and various Industrial IoT applications. The latest Series 2 SoCs are ideal for a wide range of line-powered IoT products including gateways, hubs, lights, voice assistants and smart electric meters.
Series 1 customers can easily upgrade to the Series 2 platform. With IoT security threats increasing, Wireless Gecko Series 2 leads the pack in providing improved security features but comes at virtually no additional cost when upgrading to Series 2. The enhanced radios offer a +20 dBm option for longer range, allowing customers to choose the right power level and wireless range for each design. The Series 2 radio also offers better selectivity, which is helpful as more and more wireless devices use the crowded 2.4 GHz band.
Read the full Microprocessor Report: https://www.silabs.com/documents/public/white-papers/the-linley-group-microprocessor-report-silicon-labs-upgrades-wireless-mcus.pdf
Wi-Fi may not be the first wireless technology one thinks of when considering low power IoT applications, but it should be. In this Q&A, Silicon Labs’ senior product manager for Wi-Fi products Siddharth Sundar discusses Wi-Fi's advantages and challenges that developers should keep in mind when choosing the right approach to wireless IoT.
Being a widely deployed protocol with approximately 13 billion deployed devices means that Wi-Fi connectivity is available in most home and commercial/office environments. This avoids the need for a gateway and lets devices be cloud connected without needing new infrastructure. Wi-Fi is also highly interoperable, so you can have confidence that your devices will connect to most Wi-Fi networks out there. The higher data rates and range offered by Wi-Fi also enable a wider range of applications.
Wi-Fi has significantly higher data throughput than most other IoT wireless communication protocols – often 10-100x higher, allowing it to tackle higher throughput applications like audio and video. The broad deployment and range of Wi-Fi is also a significant benefit compared to many other protocols.
These benefits do come at a cost. Wi-Fi products typically have higher power consumption and higher implementation costs than IoT specific protocols like BLE and Zigbee, since the range and throughput offered by Wi-Fi demands higher design complexity. However, most of this design complexity can be managed through using pre-certified modules, and the cost and power consumption of Wi-Fi devices is decreasing to a point where it is competitive for many IoT applications.
There are a few key reasons why 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) may be better suited for most IoT applications than 802.11ac-based products (Wi-Fi 5). First, 802.11ac is based on 5 GHz versus 802.11n which supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. 2.4 GHz offers more range and better object penetration compared to 5 GHz. This is a key benefit in home environments with multiple walls and barriers.
Also, IoT Wi-Fi devices like Silicon Labs transceivers and modules are designed with enhanced RF selectivity to maintain reliable communication even in the presence of blockers such as nearby APs, 802.15.4 and Bluetooth devices. The below figure illustrates how advanced interference mitigation techniques help overcome the channel limitations related to the 2.4 GHz band. Learn more in Wi-Fi Learning Center.
One final point, the cost and power consumption of 802.11ac based systems is higher due to the higher protocol complexity. While it does provide enhanced throughput, the data rates provided by 802.11n are more than sufficient for most IoT applications including audio and security/IP camera video streaming.
There are a number of ways to reduce power consumption using Wi-Fi:
Wi-Fi solutions have traditionally been more complex and larger than solutions for Bluetooth. However, this gap is reducing, and there are increasingly smaller, optimized solutions available for Wi-Fi. This new class of IoT Wi-Fi devices takes advantage of Moore’s law to deliver higher performance, and eliminates size/cost adding features like MIMO. For example, Silicon Labs has a pre-certified Wi-Fi SiP module (including a Wi-Fi Radio, RF, XTAL and antenna) in a 6.5 mm x 6.5 mm package, which allows you to add Wi-Fi to small form factor devices.