‘Silicon Labs Beefs Up IoT SoCs’ Part 2 of 2 from EE Times
Focus on use cases
Cooley acknowledged that many enhancements to the Gecko series this year are based on what the company learned from customers who used the previous version.
Good examples abound in real-world applications for multiprotocol connectivity.
Some customers, for example, want to deploy connected lightbulbs via Bluetooth, but want to migrate to Zigbee or Thread later. They want a single platform that uses a single chip, not two chips.
That’s where “switched multiprotocol” becomes critical, Cooley explained. A device uses Bluetooth Low Energy mode for local control via smartphone, but in the future, the user can reconfigure for Zigbee or Thread to join a mesh network.
Other customers want “dynamic multiprotocol.” Consider hospital beds, Cooley said. They are primarily on a Zigbee network, allowing central control for all the connected beds. But when a nurse comes to a patient’s bedside, and wants to adjust it, “you want those beds to switch to Bluetooth Low Energy, because the nurse can control it with her tablet.” This illustrates an example of time slice between networks.
Cellular IoT connection?
The next logical evolution for Gecko might be adding long-range connectivity such as NB-IoT.
Krell predicted that the industry “may begin to see other combinations of both long range and short range connectivity in a single package (think LTE-NB/LTE-M + Bluetooth/Wi-Fi/802.15.4) in the next few years, as we get more experience and see that applications that arise.”
Cooley, however, doesn’t think the markets are there yet. Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) is “not mature yet,” he said.
Noting that Silicon Labs will enter the market “at the right time in the right way,” Cooley stressed, “Our [IoT] focus right now is on customers, not on [specific] technologies.”
For additional Silicon Labs product information or technical support, contact Symmetry Electronics, an authorized distributor of industry leading wireless, audio/video and embedded chips, modules and dev/eval tools (877) 466-9722.
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