Simplifying Smart Home using Dialog’s Ultra Low Power Wi-Fi Platform

The promise of the smart home was to make things simple for you. It was supposed to cook your food, do your groceries, clean itself automatically and gently wake you up by parting the curtains. But the reality is far from that.

Today’s smart home is a hodgepodge of protocols that are difficult to understand for non tech savvy consumers. While you can go to a store and buy any phone or laptop and be sure it’ll connect to your Wi-Fi network, you can’t bring home a smart home gadget before making sure it works with your existing devices. The problem with the smart home is the fragmentation of IoT protocols.  Wi-Fi and Ethernet are used for high bandwidth applications. Zigbee and Z-wave are used for low power devices. There are multiple versions of Zigbee that are not compatible with each other. Z-wave is a proprietary protocol that locks users and device makers to one supplier.

To build a smart home using these protocols, you need to have an expensive hub that enables inter-device communication. And occasionally high-profile hub manufacturers have encountered financial difficulties, leaving end users high and dry.

This is simply too complicated for mainstream adoption as end users want low cost, plug and play setup of their smart homes.

Wi-Fi: The Future of Smart Home:

How Wi-Fi will simplify smart home

Historically, primary reason for protocol fragmentation has been the low power requirements of battery-operated devices such as smoke alarms and window sensors.  Zigbee and Z-wave used to consume lesser power than Wi-Fi hence were preferred protocols for these applications. The situation is, however, changing now as ultra-low power Wi-Fi chips are being introduced in the market. New Wi-Fi chips such as Dialog’s DA16200 provide the low power benefits of Zigbee and Z-wave while keeping the simplicity, compatibility, and ubiquity of the Wi-Fi standard. With Dialog’s 16200 Wi-Fi platform, embedded developers can now enable one year or more of battery life — even for always connected IoT devices at an industry leading range.

 

How does Dialog Achieve Ultra Low Power in Wi-Fi?

DA16200, based on Dialog’s patented VirtualZero™ Technology, has been designed from scratch keeping low power in mind.  Our engineers have mastered the art of low power Wi-Fi by developing dynamic power management (DPM) algorithms that utilize various features of standard Wi-Fi protocols to optimize sleep and wake-up times. The platform offers three sleep modes depending on the use case requirements of the IoT device makers.

  • Sleep 1 is the lowest power operation mode with 0.2uA current. In this mode, most of the chip blocks are turned off and chip is disconnected from the network. The SoC can be turned on by an external interrupt through chip’s wake up pins or its digital and analog IOs.
  • In sleep mode 2, the device retains the RTC functionality while consuming only 1.8uA and ensuring a wakeup time of less than 100ms in response to an external event or completion of an internal timer.
  • Sleep 3 enables unique always connected Wi-Fi mode ensuring wake up of less than 2ms upon detection of an incoming Wi-Fi packet while consuming less than 50uA average current.  In this mode, the SoC periodically checks for standard Traffic Indication Map (TIM) or Delivery Traffic Indication Map (DTIM) information elements embedded in 802.11 management frames, and wakes up to begin processing normal Wi-Fi traffic, like any network station when required. The DPM algorithms have been tested on more than 200 commonly used Wi-Fi access points ensuring the low power performance of DA16200 on any Wi-Fi network.

 

 

Introduction to DA16200 DPM Technology

Dialog is offering its low power Wi-Fi technology with easy to use development tools and modules to ensure shorter time to market for developers. DPM operation and the details of power management are abstracted from the developers to simplify product development. Widely used FreeRToS and gcc based Wi-Fi development kits enable developers to quickly prototype IoT designs using DA16200. This kit combines a Wi-Fi module with a USB interface, keys and connectors to speed development and debugging of DA16200-based designs.

 

Conclusion:

Low power Wi-Fi technology has the potential to replace Wi-Fi and Zigbee protocols in Smart Home which will simplify the home network by removing the need for an expensive hub and getting over the problem of protocol fragmentation.

Dialog has disrupted smart home with its low power Wi-Fi technology. Dialog’s dynamic power management algorithms allow IoT devices to have a year or longer battery life which makes Wi-Fi a viable alternative to Zigbee and Z-wave. With this Wi-Fi technology, end users do not need to buy an expensive hub. Installing smoke alarms, door locks, smart lights, window and door sensors, smart curtains and garage door openers will become as simple as switching on your newly bought laptop and entering your Wi-Fi password to get it working.  We are looking to work with partners who would like to build the future smart home with us. For more details, we can be reached at: omer.cheema@diasemi.com

 

Author – Omer Cheema, head of the IoT business unit at Dialog Semiconductor.