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Product How-to: Smart Home Technology by GreenPeak Technologies

I recently spoke to Cees Links, founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies. Our conversation started with the smart home and ZigBee. (GreenPeak is a member of the ZigBee Alliance.)

Links told me that the smart home is here today and is driven by the multiple system operators (MSOs) or the cable/phone companies. ZigBee is the standard for wireless throughout the smart home, due to interoperability and other features like set-top boxes (STBs) and gateways that have ZigBee integrated for remote control and other applications in the home. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

Here is the smart home as it is today. MSOs are looking for new sources of revenue. Utilities are required to enable energy management and control. Homeowners have smartphonesas convenient control points.

Here is the smart home as it is today. MSOs are looking for new sources of revenue. Utilities are required to enable energy management and control. Homeowners have smartphones
as convenient control points.

The smart home market is huge, and many say there are 600 million homes with 100 devices/home, giving an incredible 60 billion nodes. What does the smart home look like for the future? See Figure 2.

Figure 2

With Nest introducing new products and being bought by Google for billions of dollars, the smart home market will proliferate and grow. ZigBee is growing with use by giants like EchoStar, Comcast, Time-Warner, and AT&T. Expansion of ZigBee will be beyond what it was originally intended (STB and remote control).

With Nest introducing new products and being bought by Google for billions of dollars, the smart home market will proliferate and grow. ZigBee is growing with use by giants like EchoStar, Comcast, Time-Warner, and AT&T. Expansion of ZigBee will be beyond what it was originally intended (STB and remote control).

The smart home today has not connected together such applications as security motion sensors or energy management, which can turn on a light when you enter a room. The future home will connect all of these devices. See the smart home phases in Figure 3.

Figure 3

The smart home will progress in three phases over the next 16 years.

The smart home will progress in three phases over the next 16 years.

According to GreenPeak, the smart home will progress in three phases.

  • Phase 1 (2012-2015): ZigBee based Set-Top Box/Gateway with RF Remote Control
  • Phase 2 (2013-1018): Security, Home Care and Energy Management connecting
  • Phase 3 (2015-2020): Integrated environmental awareness, comfortable, safe and secure

There will be vertical applications for Phase 2, like appliance vendors interested in sending an alert if the refrigerator is using more energy than necessary, or if the dishwasher needs a filter changed. See Figure 4.

Figure 4

The smart home with numerous applications.

The smart home with numerous applications.

ICs for the smart home
GreenPeak designs ICs for the Open Smart Home Framework. Its GP710 is a great example that supports all ZigBee stacks (GP5xo, GP50x, and GP4x0) The IC has deep packet inspection to absorb or drop as needed. See Figure 5.

Figure 5

GreenPeak ICs for the Open Smart Home Framework.

GreenPeak ICs for the Open Smart Home Framework.

ZigBee and WiFi co-existing in the smart home
WiFi is a Star network, and ZigBee will be also. Light switches are now connected to the STB, but the smartphone will be the new control. Remote control (R/C) will also be replaced by the smartphone, but the physical, manually operated light switch will stay, as well. Where local home networking is concerned, with long battery life in wireless sensing and control devices, ZigBee will prevail over other wireless connectivity protocols. See Figure 6.

Figure 6

ZigBee defines the second network of the smart home, complementing WiFi. WiFi is for content distribution (high data rate). ZigBee is for sense and control networks (long battery life -- exceeding product life). Bluetooth is for connecting devices to the smartphone (peripheral connectivity).

ZigBee defines the second network of the smart home, complementing WiFi. WiFi is for content distribution (high data rate). ZigBee is for sense and control networks (long battery life — exceeding product life). Bluetooth is for connecting devices to the smartphone (peripheral connectivity).

Technology innovations by GreenPeak

  • Antenna diversity. Benefit: best in range and WiFi interference rejection
  • Hardware MAC. Benefit: lowest cost and total non-flash solution
  • Ultra-low leakage current. Benefit: lifetime and running on coin cell batteries
  • Single-chip ZigBee Green Power. Benefit: supporting energy harvesting
  • Multi-stack
  • Benefit: supporting multiple ZigBee networks simultaneously

Bosch was a wired solution company, but now it is paying attention to Nest. It also has the BME280 Integrated Environmental Unit that combines pressure, humidity, and temperature measurement wirelessly in the home of office.

GreenPeak stands out in the industry with its solutions that enable key performance for successful smart home solutions.

Maintenance-free

  • Ultra-low power, battery life exceeds product life
  • No battery change needed, no battery support calls
  • Single $0.05 coin cell ->10 years expected lifetime @ 500 key clicks/day

Full home coverage

  • Superior range/robustness, claimed to be best in WiFi interference rejection
  • The company also claims it is the only reliable full home solution, no latency impact from WiFi
  • Antenna diversity: optimal antenna selection (per packet), adding >50% to range

Highly cost competitive

  • Integrated design
  • Single-chip RF4CE/IR solution
  • The company claims the lowest product BOM (bill of materials)
  • Single-layer paper phenol material, printed board antennas
  • Production ready reference designs
  • Full product functional test system, 30% lower cost than conventional approach

The IoT beyond the smart home
The smart home starts the IoT. This same technology will expand to smart agriculture, smart retail, smart supply chain and smart industry just to name a few of the major areas that will benefit from the IoT.

Figure 7

M2M, home automation, environmental awareness -- all converge on the Internet of Things (IoT). Local area networking (IEEE802.15.4/ZigBee) for sense and control networks is essential.

M2M, home automation, environmental awareness — all converge on the Internet of Things (IoT). Local area networking (IEEE802.15.4/ZigBee) for sense and control networks is essential.

For more information, visit the GreenPeak website.

This article was originally published on EBN's sister publication EDN .

3 comments on “Product How-to: Smart Home Technology by GreenPeak Technologies

  1. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    June 3, 2014

    We often say communication is key–and in this emerging smart home movement intercommunication is particuarly important. Thanks for shedding some light with a specific example.

  2. ic78man08
    June 3, 2014

    It's such a great time to be in the Electronics industry!

  3. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    June 3, 2014

    Between Big Data and analytics and the Internet of things, there's cool new stuff to talk about every day! 🙂

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