More than 5 billion non-handset connected devices are expected to ship in 2018. Facing the growing business opportunities, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc. aims to bring mobile technologies beyond smartphones into the IoE applications. Joseph Bousaba, senior director, product management at Qualcomm Atheros explained strategy and new solutions for embracing the emerging market over the next decade.
“IoE is a significant business for Qualcomm. From worldwide market researches, we could see the IoE is a big market with trillion-dollar market size,” said Bousaba. “In 2014, more than one billion of revenue comes from non-mobile solutions. In 2015, we expect to see revenue come from non-mobile applications with single-digit growth.“ At present, Qualcomm’s IoE covers automotive, wearables, smart home, healthcare, networking, smart cities and mobile computing fields.
The IoE has been evolving. Multiple devices are wirelessly connected, bringing a different level of connectivity and computing capabilities. He indicated the growth of the market is propelled by improvement of performance. With the proliferation of Internet connected devices and increasing demand for interoperability, strong connectivity and computing capabilities are highly emphasized by the company. The addition of computational intelligence makes the interacted devices smart.
Connectivity in IoE Space
Bousaba indicated that wireless connectivity is the heart of IoE, and connectivity is a key enabler. The mobile industry has revolutionized the way how people communicate. It is essential to enable devices to be connected and communicable with strong computing power. Besides hardware, Qualcomm Atheros provides software capabilities to enable interoperability for seamless communication between devices, and security features designed to maximize security in the smallest IoE devices.
“The combination of connectivity plus different computing capabilities allows us to provide different solutions to different parts of the market. For example, a home appliance requires low-power connectivity, and micro controller; TV requires high performance for streaming videos. Two different applications require different computing capabilities.” Facing fragmented market, different communication technologies and computing requirements, the company’s strategy is to deliver the right mix of connectivity and computing capabilities from its comprehensive portfolios address the varying needs of the IoE.
Smart Home Gaining Momentum
Smart home is a pivotal part of the market, and a key focus for Qualcomm Atheros as well. Bousaba said, “in the home, we take end-to-end approaches, by offering complete solutions from the edge of the cloud to every devices in the home to enable an ecosystem for whether entertainment or home control and automation.
Form the networking side, we have comprehensive solutions with strong capabilities like our MU-MIMO solutions in the APs and smart gateways which is the center of the home that connects home network to the cloud. “We also provide complete solutions to the client sides, such as TVs, home appliances, lights, automation devices.
As home ecosystem of the devices and solutions come together, interoperability is a very critical factor to create a smart environment. AllJoyn platform was created to provide interoperability for seamless connection between different devices.
“Today, we all have connected devices in our homes, but these devices don’t interact with each other. Like Samsung devices don’t talk to LG devices or Panasonic devices,” said Bousaba. AllSeen alliance is an open source alliance with more than 140 members today, including major companies like Microsoft, SONY, Panasonic and many others from different part of ecosystem. AllJoyn enables all members to bring about suggestions and cooperation among partners. Its wireless solutions are pre-integrated with Allseen Alliance’s AllJoyn software framework.
Two SoCs for IoE
Qualcomm Atheros announced two new intelligent connectivity solutions QCA 401x and QCA4531 for the Internet of Everything (IoE) to meet low-end and high-end market segments. The QCA401x enables AllJoyn IoE clients, and the QCA4531 is capable of becoming an AllJoyn IoE hub.
QCA 401x, available for sampling now, is an embedded solution which has Wi-Fi connectivity and micro controller with up to 800KB of on-chip memory for customize application. The QCA401x is designed to answer manufacturer demand for increased computing, memory and advanced features for lowering size, cost, power consumption. It includes a suite of communication protocols including Wi-Fi, IPv6, HTTP and other cloud enablers in addition to advanced security features.
Besides addressing security and feature-rich, the IoE SoC supports RTOS, a real-time operating system, for different large and small devices like LED lighting and home automation. It supports different interfaces to connect with sensors, displays, actuators, further reducing system cost, size and complexity.
QCA4531 is a low-cost turnkey solution, Linux-based Wi-Fi hub solution, that brings high-performance connectivity and capabilities with a user-programmable Linux/OpenWRT environment benefiting from the extended range based on 2×2 11n. The SoC is available now for home appliance to be used as a client device or a sensor hub. The QCA4531 can function as an Access Point supporting up to 16 simultaneous devices, and is also power-optimized to enable appliances to meet international standards for energy efficiency.
“We focus on end-to-end security, so we build up key features to ensure the security from the device to the cloud,” said Bousaba. Its security features consist of
anti-tampering, data integrity and root of trust.
Anti-tampering protects the manufacturer’s code from side band attempts to reprogram devices. Data integrity protects the communication from the device to the cloud with hardware-based encryption algorithms against “eavesdropping” like SSL encryption technology. Root of trust enables manufacturers to create and manage authorizations and protections based on a hardware-based secret on their own.
Bousaba thinks the smart home market is starting to grow with billions of connected things and services in the following years. “We see exponential complexity, fragmentation on the market, and a number of technologies required to address the market.” He believes some of the convergence will happen, but there will be different standards still. The company keeps flexible to support different solution.