Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is making a new M2M play via a low-power, single-chip Wi-Fi platform aimed at major home appliances and consumer electronics. The chip vendor has already partnered with Chinese appliance maker Haier on a washer/dryer combo and an air conditioner unit, both of which are on display at the IFA event in Berlin.
Qualcomm--which is pushing the "Internet of Everything," a vision that expands upon the Internet of Things concept to include more functionality and interactions--said its new QCA4002 and QCA4004 platforms also feature its AllJoyn software framework. AllJoyn, a proximal networking software development project, enables what Qualcomm calls the "Internet of things near me" by providing basic building blocks and a set of services for users to interact with nearby things for onboarding, notifications, audio streaming and control.
"This will enable a flurry of different devices to join the AllJoyn network," Adam Lapede, senior director of product management for Qualcomm Atheros, told FierceBroadbandWireless.
He noted the Haier devices being demoed in Berlin include AllJoyn capability.
The 802.11n 1x1 single-stream QCA4002 and QCA4004 chips include the IP stack and full networking services so customers can add Wi-Fi to most any product without having to engage in heavy development efforts or incurring high costs. By including an on-chip processor and memory, the platforms eliminate the need for a system controller. Further, the QCA4004 enables customers to write applications on the Qualcomm Atheros platform instead of using it just for Wi-Fi connectivity.
"The main objective we have is simplifying Wi-Fi for all of those non-screen use-case devices," Lapede said.
"We're putting all the smarts that were typically done on the microcontroller or on the host processor onto the chip," he added.
The new CE applications being envisioned differ from traditional Wi-Fi use cases that require high throughput streaming data, rechargeable batteries and high-performance application processors. The new applications focus on low bandwidth, low energy and low resources for devices requiring infrequent and small data packets, disposable batteries and which are low-cost MCU-based or hostless.
Lapede noted there is little demand for using 802.11ac in the lower-power devices being targeted by the QCA 4002 and QCA 4004, as that cutting-edge, high-performance technology is more suited to the traditional Wi-Fi use cases.
Qualcomm's new chips offer extreme improvements in power consumption, a necessity for bringing Wi-Fi into battery-enabled devices such as thermostats, sensors and remote controls. In fact, the remote controls market is proving to be especially hot given the macro trend of shifting remote controls from infrared to RF so as to remove line-of-sight requirements, Lapede said.
Source: Internet of Everything Intelligent Platform QCA 4002/4004, Qualcomm, Aug.-Sept. 2013
Both of the new chips include a Green TX feature that allows devices to cut transmit power by up to 50 percent when in close proximity of another device or access point. But unlike the QCA 4002, the QCA4004 includes self-wake and management. "This is the device that will work standalone on a battery-based application," Lapede said.
The QCA4002 is available in full production. The QCA4004 is sampling and available with an evaluation platform. That chip is scheduled for full production during the fourth quarter.
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