Solving the Challenge of Many Devices with Multiple Standards in the Connected Home

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  • Author: Ohad Peled

The number of connected devices within our homes continues to rise as consumers increasingly rely on them for convenience, comfort, health and safety. Some are inside our homes; some are outside. And while these devices are designed to be part of a network, they often communicate via different standards – languages, if you will – depending on the application. Most of us are familiar with the Wi-Fi standard, which enables content sharing and internet access in the home. But there are a number of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies other than Wi-Fi, such as Bluetooth® Low Energy (LE), Zigbee® and Thread®. These low-power, low-data-rate wireless standards are commonly used in IoT-connected products such as door locks, LED lighting and appliances.

The challenge that these multiple and different technologies pose is that vendors must decide in advance what kind of technology they are selecting for their device. For example, in selecting either Zigbee or Bluetooth LE – or both – each choice has its own impact in terms of product design. Looking forward, there are even more technologies coming that are targeting similar smart home use cases, such as the Connected Home Over IP initiative, which combines multiple other technologies (802.15.4 and Bluetooth LE) into a single standard.

This will make the choice between technologies and future-proof solutions even more challenging. While today’s communications devices have some form of dynamic multi-protocol (DMP) support, this approach requires different types of tradeoffs. DMP alone is not sufficient to realize the full benefits of the connected home. Truly seamless connectivity can only be achieved by the ability to listen to and hear all devices on the network simultaneously, not just a few.

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