2017/08/04 iotcomm 1953view
Skip Ashton, Vice President of Silicon Labs Software Business
For the future Internet of Things market, when the industry is "crazy" predicting how many devices will be installed, Skip is more concerned about "what kind of devices the market can provide consumers with?". Because almost everyone has encountered a similar situation-a lot of automation equipment that "looks interesting but actually useless" is installed.
He believes that this is a challenge facing the growth of the Internet of Things market, that is, how to use devices to please users? The Echo speaker using the Alexa voice recognition system launched by Amazon is a successful case in Skip's view. It can connect many products with different functions. After many version upgrades, it has been able to provide users with Provide a very easy-to-use experience.
"This is a typical case of using equipment to please users. Although it seems that Echo is not so perfect, and its accent recognition is not good enough, it has already made users' eyes bright, so Amazon gave 10 million units. Sales forecasts for the US. For the US market with 100 million households, 10 million units are already a very high penetration rate.” Therefore, Skip said that for chip manufacturers such as Silicon Labs, it is not only necessary to provide Chips, modules, development tools, and software should also help analyze the causes and solve problems when problems occur.
NB-IoT and BLE Mesh are not suitable for smart lighting
NB-IoT can be said to be the most concerned technology in the Internet of Things market. Skip admits that it will have a place in the long-distance coverage market, but believes that the power consumption of NB-IoT is 10 times that of Bluetooth and 15.4 standards, so this is not necessarily suitable for battery-powered devices. Another problem is that the vast majority of devices in the IoT world actually only need local connection and communication. For example, smart lighting devices do not need to communicate with the cloud. Although they can better understand their working status if they are connected to the cloud, they actually need to be connected locally. It will be more convenient to realize the connection and control in a customized way.
A few months ago, hackers attacked the DNS server in the United States, affecting many Internet of Things devices such as Linux cameras, and many Internet sites were down. Skip said that if the end-to-end control method from the device to the cloud is adopted, the security system and smart home system will not work without the Internet. "For networked lighting, we hope that the switching action can still work without the Internet. It is a good thing to have a cloud connection, which can provide more services, but you can't ensure that the equipment is always working well, that is the problem. So Our core strategy will be to focus on device-to-device communication."
The latest Bluetooth Mesh technology has also attracted the attention of the industry, but Skip believes that it will not have as many products in the lighting field as Zigbee. Because Bluetooth Mesh uses the flooding Mesh of big data flow instead of the Mesh of the routing method, its working principle is that each node sends data in a repeating manner. The advantage of this approach is simple and easy to use, but scalability is its shortcoming, especially in commercial buildings. In addition, reliability is also a problem, because it is prone to "screaming" when working. For example, if there are 15 light bulbs in the room, flooding Mesh is no problem, but if there are dozens of hundreds of light bulbs in the entire area, the working condition of flooding Mesh will not be very good.
He also particularly emphasized the reliability, interoperability and security of IoT devices, and believes that Zigbee 3.0 has 10 years of experience in optimization and improvement in these areas. In contrast, the new Bluetooth Mesh may encounter some interesting challenges. For example, Bluetooth device manufacturers didn't have to worry about interoperability before, because a smart watch manufacturer was most concerned about connecting its smart watch with its own App, rather than connecting other people's devices with its own App. So in this case, the manufacturer owns and controls both ends of the communication, and most Bluetooth users add their own features, because the interoperability is limited to my device and my App.
But for Bluetooth Mesh in the home, interoperability is not limited to my device and my App, but all devices must be able to communicate. Skip sees this as an interesting "idea" change, not a technical issue. "Today's Bluetooth dialogue settings are very poor interoperability. Consumers must manually set up this connection, and they must set up the communication between the phone and the watch. In this case, there is no need to worry about interoperability. But what about the Mesh network?"
The latest development of Zigbee/Thread standard
In the past 12 months, the number of new devices certified by Zigbee came mainly from connected lighting and home automation, which together accounted for 75% of the total number of certifications. It's just that the main focus of the industry is still Zigbee, and Thread products have not actually been shipped.