Qorvo Releases Multi-protocol System-on-Chip for Secure Smart Homes

By Rich Handley

The new platform is designed to help users mitigate uncertainty surrounding future Internet of Things standards.

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Qorvo, a provider of RF connectivity solutions, has introduced a complete system-on-chip (SoC) for smart-home devices that, according to the company, provides multi-protocol support while improving power consumption.

More than 600 million smart-home devices are expected to be shipped annually by 2021, according to ABI Research, compared with 40 million in 2015. According to Qorvo, devices built with its solutions will be able to connect consumers with future products in their homes, helping to accelerate the smart-home market.

The GP695 system-on-chip integrates multiple communication protocols, including IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee 3.0, Thread and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), for sensors and actuators throughout the home, Qorvo reports. The new SoC, the firm notes, supports these connectivity standards while improving energy efficiency and extending battery life.

Supporting these different connectivity options allows for a single development platform and a single stock-keeping unit (SKU), Qorvo says, independent of the communication protocol used by a particular customer. In this way, the company explains, BLE-based smartphone connectivity for proximity-based services can be combined with Thread or ZigBee 3.0 for smart-home services.

For example, homeowners can use their mobile phones to connect a GP695-equipped door lock to a ZigBee smart-home system using the phone’s BLE protocol. The door lock then can be opened or closed from the mobile phone using a BLE connection. According to the company, the system can automatically lock the door via ZigBee if it detects that no one is inside the home.

The GP695 utilizes an ARM Cortex-M4 computing architecture. It also features Qorvo’s Wi-Fi interference mitigation technology and offers a range that the company claims is sufficient to cover an entire home.

“The 2016 holiday season is set to showcase the increased popularity of smart-home devices,” said Alex Davies, an analyst and editor at Rethink Technology Research, in a prepared statement. “These next two months should show promising growth for smart HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning], smart security systems, connected video doorbells and intercoms, garage door controllers, lightbulbs, smoke alarms, and leak detectors.” With insurance providers and operators moving into the smart-home sector, he noted, the use of such devices is growing.

“Qorvo now offers power-efficient, multi-protocol solutions for both gateway and sensor devices in the smart-home network,” said Cees Links, the general manager of GreenPeak Technologies‘ Wireless Connectivity business unit, in the prepared statement. “By using these cost-effective chipsets, designers can let consumers control their smart homes without worrying about evolving IoT [Internet of Things] standards.”

Qorvo will provide live demonstrations of its smart-home and IoT solutions in booth #42114 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017. The conference will be held next week in Las Vegas, Nev.

Additional information about the Internet of Things can be downloaded in Qorvo’s free e-book series, Internet of Things for Dummies, the company reports. The two-volume series, designed to help technical and nontechnical professionals understand the IoT’s intricacies, is available at www.qorvo.com/iot-for-dummies.