Many connected devices can improve consumer experience and enhance functionality by supporting multiple wireless connectivity options. We are used to our smartphones supporting Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other connectivity options to provide streaming media as well as connectivity to headphones and smart watches. The power, size, and cost requirements for many IoT systems has traditionally made supporting multiple protocols challenging. Dynamic multiprotocol wireless connectivity provides a viable means to simultaneously support multiple wireless protocols on a single chip by using a time-slicing mechanism to share a radio between protocols, reducing wireless system cost and simplifying system design.
Benefits of Supporting Multiple Protocols
- Provide direct phone-based configuration and control of connected devices
- Simplify wireless-subsystem design through reduction of RF components
- Include diagnostic capabilities to check device health with a smartphone
- Leverage multiprotocol IC for mobile engagement applications
- Add a mechanism for high-speed OTA firmware updates
Executing Multiple Protocols on a Single SoC
One of the challenges faced with supporting multiple protocols has been the requirement to have multiple chips or SoCs, one for each protocol. Time slicing multiple protocols on a single chip is a viable option for protocols that use the same frequency bands. For example, Bluetooth and Zigbee both operate at 2.4 GHz. Each protocol has its own requirements for latency and bandwidth, and the effective scheduling of communication is a key element to successfully making use of dynamic multiprotocol connectivity. Depending on the specific application, the amount of time allocated to each protocol may vary, requiring a configurable connection interval. System testing is also necessary to ensure that application timing requirements are met. By designing with one SoC, the wireless sub-system BoM can be reduced by up to 40%, and PCB design can be simplified, eliminating the need to address possible interference between multiple radios.
|Performance||Bandwidth shared across multiple protocols; potential increased latency and missed packets||No compromises|
Applications for Multiprotocol Connectivity
The usefulness of connected devices in consumer and commercial environments can be enhanced or improved through multiprotocol connectivity. In home automation, for example, Zigbee provides whole-home wireless coverage with its mesh capabilities and makes it possible to control devices from outside the home via a gateway. When Bluetooth LE is introduced, a smartphone can be used for direct local control and location awareness can be added. This unlocks more advanced home automation features like controlling door locks with a smartphone via Bluetooth, using the door lock to adjust lights over Zigbee, and using Bluetooth beacons to provide system health information and location-aware functionality by detecting movement of a person through a smartphone.
In retail or commercial settings, there is a desire to make use of technologies such as Bluetooth beacons to provide location-based advertisements, track assets, and develop heat maps to track foot traffic. One of the challenges to wide scale adoption is the need for dedicated beacon devices. Additionally, for beacon lifecycle management, the range of connectivity has an impact on the logistics of updating devices. By integrating Bluetooth beacons into connected infrastructure such as lighting, large-scale coverage areas can be created. Instead of having to deploy both connected lights and beacons, a light or luminaire can serve as the means to deploy Bluetooth beacons. This provides a more cost-effective avenue to enable location based services.
Add intelligence to spaces through connected lighting.
Deliver integrated omni-channel consumer experiences.
Transform buildings into connected, intelligent spaces.
Accelerate smart device adoption with direct control.
A number of scenarios in consumer and commercial environments can be enahanced or improved through multiprotocol support. In home automation scenarios Zigbee provides whole home coverage with its mesh capabilities and deliveres control from outside the home via a gateway. However, by adding Bluetooth LE with multiprotocol connectivity, a smartphone phone can provide direct local control and add location aware services. This enables scenarios such as controlling a door lock over Blueooth via a smartphone, automated home control from the doorlock to control lights over Zigbee and using Bluetooth beacons to provide system health information and provide location aware services by detecting the presense of movenent of a person through the smartphone.
In retail or commercial settings there is a desire to make use of technologies such as Bluetooth Beacons to provide location based advertisements, track assets and also develop heat maps of foot traffic. One of the challenges for wide scale adoption is the need for dedicated beacon devices. For device life cycle management the range of connectivity also has impact on the logistics of updating devices. By integrating Bluetooth beacons into other connected infrastructure such as lighting large scale, dense regions with beacon coverage can be created. Instead of having to deploy both connecting lights and beacons, a connected Light or Luminaire can also serve as the means to deploy Bluetooth beacon infrastructure. This can provide a more cost-effective means to improve beacon density.