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.
Benefits of Supporting Multiple Protocols Include:
- 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
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|
A number of scenarios in consumer and commercial environments can be enhanced or improved through multiprotocol support. In home automation scenarios Zigbee provides whole home coverage with its mesh capabilities and delivers 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 presence of movement 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.