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NXP Set to Demystify Smart Homes

LAS VEGAS — The connected smart home is a popular concept that’s being pitched in practically every vendor’s booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show this week.

The CES pitchmen will make it sound unbelievably easy to turn your home into a smart one with connected appliances. “Unbelievably” is the operative word here.

In reality, it’s inevitable that most consumers will find themselves stymied, as they try to sort through the complexity of setting up their many household devices.

Enter NXP Semiconductors, promising to change the picture.

The Dutch chip giant comes to Las Vegas fully prepared to launch on Monday (Jan. 4) what it describes as “the industry’s most comprehensive smart home solutions.”

NXP is rolling out a “Lego-style” smart home development kit.

Asit Goel, senior vice president and general manager of NXP’s Secure Monitoring & Control business line, told EE Times that NXP sees its development kit’s mission as “demystifying smart homes for developers.” It will also accelerate their development time, he added.

Included in NXP’s smart home solutions are: production-ready modules and reference designs for smart lighting, smoke detection, motion sensing, home gateways and many other popular smart home applications.

The building blocks include: a variety of connectivity options such as ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth Low Energy; ARM-based i.MX applications processors for gateways; voice activation algorithms; and NFC to enable “tap and connect” pairing functions.

(Source: NXP)

(Source: NXP)

BLE chip with concurrent operations
Inside the kit, NXP is offering its new Bluetooth Low Energy chip, called QN9080.

The chip, based on ARM M4 core, consumes very little power, according to Goel, by leveraging a design that features an enhanced sleep mode. The new Bluetooth chip, when used in a wearable device, for example, could last “up to one month without recharging,” he noted.

QN9080 also provides improved performance by doubling its memory. The chip, capable of processing data from multiple sensors, can be also made “context aware,” Goel added.

Further, this is the first Bluetooth Low Energy chip on the market that can offer “multiple instances of master/slave concurrent operations in each IoT device,” said Goel.

Asked to compare the QN9080 with rival offerings, he said, “It is our understanding that our competitors currently support only one concurrent link.”

Security and privacy
The smart home development kit is designed to be modular. Depending on system requirements, developers can pick and choose what they need from the kit, explained Goel.

Security is a key element.

In the IoT industry, it has become paramount to build security and privacy into connected home appliances from the ground up. But IoT developers are also aware that these elements are often easier said than done.

In its smart home development kit, NXP offers system designers “three layers of security,” said Goel. The first layer is to protect the path between the gateway and the cloud, the second is local security, and the third is physical security of the hardware itself.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.

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