The radio silicon specialist claims its WiFi subsystem can provide the embedded smarts for consumer durable connections around the home. By Ian Scales.
The popular approach to developing the M2M connectivity layer have so far been dominated by the notion that a specialised set of the embedded products will be required - products designed to be very low energy-consuming, low data demanding and only requiring intermittent connectivity.
ZigBee, for instance, involves IEEE 802-based protocols running low-powered, personal area network devices to control things like light switches or utility meters. Short-range, low data rate (250kbs), low power and cheaper and simpler than general purpose alternatives like Bluetooth.
The alternative, overlapping, approach is to take the dominant - and therefore highly commoditised - radio technology and then tailor it to match the above requirements (where possible) in software. The result might be sub-optimal in some areas (remote client power consumption for instance) but highly beneficial in two very important areas - per unit cost and host connectivity.
This what Broadcom is doing with its Internet of Things WiFi push. It has tailored its WiFi component expertise and scale to provide the embedded devices, safe in the knowledge that WiFi hotspot and homespot connectivity is becoming increasingly pervasive and so capable of handling the connections for many applications.
Its just-announced Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) features its BCM4319 wireless LAN MAC/baseband/radio and an embedded processor and Broadcom says its "self-hosted" Wi-Fi networking library and software application stack means manufacturers can easily integrate the radios into their products.
It says it's going after several of the plum emerging M2M markets, including connected appliances, smart energy systems, and cloud-based health and home management services.
Many other Internet of Things hopefuls - including many big carriers - are hoping to take a significantly different approach, of course, involving so-called 'under-the-floor' (rather than Over-the-Top) connectivity to remote or monitored objects.
Are the familiar old battle lines beginning to form?
Find out more. Join our live panel session on Tuesday, November 22nd (2.00pm London, 3.00pm Central Europe, 9.00am East Coast US). We're calling it 'Building the Internet of Things', sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent
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Stay tuned as we bring you more on this fast-developing field over the next couple of weeks.
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