07 Nov 2017

Multiprotocol wireless software advances IoT connectivity

Silicon Labs has released new dynamic multiprotocol software for its Wireless Gecko system-on-chip (SoC) and module portfolio, enabling simultaneous operation of Zigbee and Bluetooth low energy (LE) on a single SoC and bringing together the key application benefits of both protocols.

This multiprotocol solution enables advanced functionality for Internet of Things (IoT) applications without incurring the additional complexity and hardware cost of a two-chip architecture, thereby reducing the wireless subsystem bill-of-materials (BOM) cost and size by up to 40 percent.

Dynamic multiprotocol software allows users to commission, update, control and monitor Zigbee mesh networks directly over Bluetooth with smartphone apps. The software also makes it easier to deploy scalable indoor location-based service infrastructure by extending Zigbee-based connected lighting and building automation systems with Bluetooth beacons. By adding Bluetooth LE features to Zigbee mesh networks, developers can create next-generation IoT applications that are easier to deploy, use and update.

“Multiprotocol technology is the future of wireless connectivity for the IoT. Silicon Labs’ multiprotocol software and Wireless Gecko SoCs enable Schneider Electric to create products that support Bluetooth LE and a variety of mesh wireless standards,” said Nico Jonkers, Senior Vice President of the SmartSpace line of business at Schneider Electric. “This flexibility lets consumers and installers use familiar tools like smartphones and tablets to interact with connected devices for installation and updates while maintaining the integrity of Zigbee mesh networks. Our smart home offering, Wiser, takes full advantage of this flexibility to deliver simple installation and a robust mesh network.”

Examples of applications that benefit from Silicon Labs’ multiprotocol software include:

  • Smart Lighting – In residential lighting, consumers can use smartphone apps to simplify device installation/setup. Commercial lighting systems based on Zigbee can be extended to transmit Bluetooth beacons to enable indoor location services or asset tracking. Installers and maintenance teams can commission Zigbee devices, update software or perform diagnostics on a specific device via a Bluetooth smartphone or tablet. End users can use smartphones to control a group of lights and receive beacons to assist with indoor navigation.

  • Smart Home – IoT products can connect to popular home automation platforms and voice assistants that support Zigbee while also supporting direct connectivity to smartphones for simple setup and local control and monitoring. For example, a connected door lock can be remotely accessed via the mesh network and unlocked locally via a smartphone app. Bluetooth beacons that include location can be used to enhance smartphone apps and provide additional context for automation applications.

  • Smart Building – Commercial building automation systems powered by Zigbee can be extended, enabling employee interaction using Bluetooth enabled smartphones, tablets or smart tags. For example, connected HVAC systems can automatically adjust based on occupancy or user preferences set in employee profiles. Silicon Labs’ multiprotocol wireless technology simplifies the implementation of beacon infrastructure and transforms buildings into connected, intelligent spaces.

“Leveraging our Wireless Gecko SoCs and modules with dynamic multiprotocol software, developers can transform connected devices into intelligent, multifunction applications that drive automation, accelerate smart device adoption and deliver next-generation capabilities for the IoT,” said Daniel Cooley, Senior Vice President and General Manager of IoT products at Silicon Labs. “Providing multiprotocol Zigbee and Bluetooth connectivity on a single chip also reduces design costs, simplifies software development, improves life-cycle management and accelerates time to market.”

Silicon Labs’ dynamic multiprotocol software is powered by highly optimized wireless protocol stacks and an advanced radio scheduler running on Micrium OS. The software development kit (SDK) is available in Simplicity Studio and includes a connected lighting demo supported on selected Wireless Gecko starter kits and mobile app reference designs.

The new multiprotocol software is available now to customers using Silicon Labs’ EFR32MG12 and EFR32MG13 Wireless Gecko SoCs and associated modules.

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