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Simplifying Smart Home with an Ultra-Low Power Wi-Fi Platform

wifi smart home

The promise of the Smart Home is to simplify life for you. It holds the potential to cook your food, order your groceries, do housework automatically and monitor the premises, hence providing you with comfort, convenience, safety, and security. But the reality is far from the promised vision.

 

Why is Smart Home technology not there yet?

In the developed countries, between 5-15% of homes have adopted some sort of smart home product (source: Statistica). These penetration rates place the smart home in the early phase of adoption. Early adopters are usually technology-driven professionals who love technology for the sake of technology. They are willing to go through complicated setups and are patient enough to work through early bugs and setbacks.

The early majority, on the other hand, is not focused on the novelty of the technology but is driven by its usefulness. A technology is adopted by the early majority if it is easy to set up and provides a tangible benefit to the end-user.

But today’s smart home is complicated to set up if you are not a tech-savvy person. While you can easily purchase a mobile device or a laptop and know it will connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network without any issue, you cannot do the same with a smart home gadget.

According to Next-Generation Support: Building an Engagement Platform, more than 50% of smart devices face setup problems during installation. In other words, if you want to install 10 smart devices in your smart home, there is a 99.94% probability that you will face at least one setup problem. That is simply unacceptable for mass adoption of smart home devices.

smart home devices: number of setup problems experienced

Number of setup problems experienced during setup

Most setup problems are rooted in the protocol fragmentation problem of the smart home. In today’s smart home, Wi-Fi and Ethernet are used for high bandwidth applications while Zigbee and Z-wave are used for low power use cases. Zigbee protocol has fragmentation issues as two Zigbee versions are not compatible with one another. Z-wave is a proprietary protocol that commits manufacturers and users to one supplier.

Setting up a smart home with these protocols requires an expensive hub that makes inter-device communication possible. The problem with that is not only the cost for the end-user but also the fact that the manufacturers of these hubs control the data of smart homes. Hub manufactures may decide to limit access by introducing unexpected subscription fees or similar barriers and occasionally high-profile hub manufacturers have encountered financial difficulties, leaving end users stranded. In short, a hub-based home architecture makes mainstream adoption complicated.

Wi-Fi Will Simplify the Smart Home

Wi-Fi is the ubiquitous protocol for the smart home. It is installed in almost every home in the developed world. It is easy to set up and easy to maintain. With the emergence of Wi-Fi 6 and low-power Wi-Fi, the protocol fragmentation problem of a smart home can be potentially addressed now. Wi-Fi 6 will replace the high bandwidth applications that are currently run on Ethernet today while new ultra-low-power Wi-Fi platforms such as Dialog’s DA16200 will replace Zigbee and Z-Wave for low power use cases. DA16200 provides the low power benefits of Zigbee and Z-wave while maintaining the compatibility, simplicity, and ubiquity of standard Wi-Fi. With the DA16200 Wi-Fi platform, embedded developers can enable one year of battery life or more for their IoT devices even for always connected scenarios.

Today/future

How Wi-Fi will simplify smart home architecture

 

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Wi-Fi will become the ubiquitous smart home protocol

DA16200 platform comes with easy to use development tools and modules to ensure a shorter time to market for developers. Proprietary Dynamic Power Management (DPM) operation and all the details regarding power management are abstracted from the developers so product development becomes a lot simpler. DA16200 dev kit supports FreeRToS and GCC-based development to enable faster prototype development.

What is the Magic behind Dialog’s Ultra Low power Wi-Fi?

DA16200, the ultra-low power Wi-Fi platform, is based on Dialog’s patented VirtualZero™ Technology. Dialog’s talented and dedicated engineers have mastered the art of low-power Wi-Fi with the development of patented proprietary DPM algorithms, which use many of the features of standard Wi-Fi to optimize sleep and wake-up times. This platform offers three different sleep modes to be used depending on the requirements of IoT device manufacturers.

  • Sleep 1 operates at the lowest power with 0.2uA current. When this sleep mode is activated, most of the chip blocks turn off and the chip is disconnected from the network. An external interrupt that runs through the chip’s wake-up pins or its digital and analog IOs can turn on the SoC.
  • Sleep 2 allows the device to retain its real-time clock functionality while only consuming 1.8uA. It also guarantees a wake-up time of less than 100ms to respond to outside events or the completion of the internal timer. · Sleep 3 enables always-connected Wi-Fi mode and it ensures a wake-up time of less than 2ms if it detects an incoming Wi-Fi packet. This mode consumes less than 50uA average current. In this mode, the SoC performs periodical checks for standard Traffic Indication Map (TIM) or Delivery Traffic Indication Map (DTIM) information elements embedded in 802.11 management frames. It also wakes up to initiate the process of normal Wi-Fi traffic, just like any network station does when it’s required.
Dialog's VirtualZero Technology

Description of Dialog’s VirtualZero Technology

DPM algorithms have been tested on over 200 commonly used Wi-Fi access points to ensure that Dialog’s DA16200 provides the lowest power on any Wi-Fi network.

Summary

Low power Wi-Fi technology will make the smart home network a lot simpler by eliminating the need for an expensive hub and solving the issue of protocol fragmentation. Dialog is disrupting the smart home industry with its low power Wi-Fi technology. The DPM algorithms based on Dialog’s VirtualZero technology allow IoT devices to have a year of battery life or even more. This effectively makes Wi-Fi a great alternative to both Zigbee and Z-wave. At Dialog, we are open to working with partners who would like to be a part of the future of the smart home.

Learn more by viewing this webinar.