Wi-Fi 6 and CHIP: The True Plug-and-Play Smart Home

This year”s COVID-19 outbreak has led to more people working from home, which has accelerated the adoption of the new Wi-Fi standard (Wi-Fi 6) for deployment. Consumers are beginning to upgrade their home networks with this new higher speed Wi-Fi 6 while enjoying the benefits of a distributed architecture that is not only easy to set up to cover all rooms, but also has the high capacity to meet the diverse needs of all family members, such as video conferencing in the den, watching favorite shows in the living room, playing hours of online games in the upstairs bedroom, and more. 

Until now, the smart home has been served through multiple competing standards, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth®Low Energy, Thread, and others. This fragmented state, where multiple standards are used, prevents the smart home, and the IoT itself, from reaching its potential. CHIP integrates ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi into one overarching standard. This white paper will explore why adopting CHIP will enable a truly smart home.


Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6 Distributed Architecture and Pods

Wi-Fi 6”s distributed architecture consists of a router and a set of satellites (Pods) placed in appropriate locations in the home. These Pods automatically connect to the main router connected to the outdoor Internet through a protocol called EasyMeshâ„¢. Gone are the days of having to be close to the router to get high performance and having to use repeaters and/or wire adapters to cover network dead zones. 

While the word “Pod” may sound simple, it is a rather complex device that performs many other operations simultaneously. In fact, every non-mobile Wi-Fi device can act as a Pod, and a TV, wireless speaker, or smart assistant like Amazon”s Echo Dot or Google Home can serve as a Pod for other Wi-Fi devices while performing its own functions.

Although the word “Pod” sounds simple, but it is a rather complex device.

2, Internet Protocol Connected Home (CHIP)

CHIP is a new IoT standard whose stated goal is to “simplify the development process for manufacturers and improve consumer compatibility.” CHIP is IP-based and aims to enable communication between smart home devices, mobile applications and cloud services.

It is more of a new convergence standard than a new networking standard. In essence, CHIP integrates different elements of existing IoT standards. Today, IoT is delivered through multiple competing standards representing different ecosystems, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth/Bluetooth Low Power, and Thread used by Apple HomeKit, Samsung Smart Things, Google Nest, Amazon Alexa, and others. Thread. This fragmented state, where different technology standards are mixed in different ways across multiple independent ecosystems, prevents the IoT from reaching its potential while consumers wait for an overarching concept. Without an overarching concept, the smart home is just a disjointed, separate set of dedicated applications that cannot use each other”s data or provide usability. 

Motion sensors are a good example of this, as many different applications use such sensors. In today”s fragmented application environment, motion sensors in alarm systems cannot communicate with sensors that turn on lights or trigger heating/cooling systems. 

CHIP is good news. It was developed by the Zigbee Alliance and Thread Alliance in collaboration with Amazon, Apple, Google and Samsung to integrate the different components of Zigbee, Thread, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in one overarching standard. 

3. How CHIP connects all smart home devices to Wi-Fi networks

 2. Plug and Play: This IoT prospect can be realized using CHIP certified devices connecting and sending data via pods on a Wi-Fi mesh grid. Consumers can choose “things” based on brand preference or device performance, and know that these “things” will work across ecosystems or platforms. 

The CHIP standard will support communication between end devices (the “things” of the IoT) and “pods” of the Wi-Fi 6 network, and communicate with the Internet through these pods. Sensor end node data can be placed where it is needed. This concept makes Wi-Fi 6 and CHIP the ideal combination for overall indoor connectivity. 

Each Wi-Fi 6 pod will be equipped with a Zigbee radio, or a better standard IEEE 802.15.4 (IoT) radio alongside the Wi-Fi radio. This allows all smart home devices (motion sensors, temperature sensors, on/off sensors) to connect to the Wi-Fi network and connect to the Internet. As Wi-Fi connectivity becomes more prevalent, the number of Pods in many homes begins to increase significantly. It makes sense to expand these pods through IoT radios, and Wi-Fi 6 EasyMesh connectivity will automatically handle the rest – enabling in-home connectivity and cloud connectivity. Some Wi-Fi router companies have already incorporated CHIP radios (IEEE 802.15.4) into their products so that their products” software can be upgraded to the CHIP standard as soon as it is released. 

And there”s more good news: CHIP end devices do not need to support grid functionality themselves. Because grid functionality consumes a lot of power, gridless CHIP devices with Wi-Fi 6 grid functionality will consume significantly less power, which helps reduce battery size and extend battery life. This also means that the cost and design complexity of these IoT end devices will be significantly reduced, while enabling a smaller, more aesthetically pleasing and natural design.

4, about Bluetooth and Bluetooth low-power grid

So how will Bluetooth and Bluetooth low-power grid? This remains to be seen. Some may argue that Wi-Fi pods can easily be equipped with Bluetooth low-power radios instead of 802.15.4 radios. While this is technically true, it is not the most practical solution, as Bluetooth itself is essentially a connectivity technology and is not suited for networking. 

In fact, many of the more sophisticated end devices on the market today can use both 802.15.4 and Bluetooth low-power communications, but the application approach is typically to designate the 802.15.4 radio as the network connection and use a low-energy Bluetooth connection to a smartphone for debugging. Since the sensor is typically small and does not have a screen or keyboard, a Bluetooth low-power smartphone connected to the sensor will be used as the interface. Using a smartphone connected to the Wi-Fi network and a Bluetooth low-power sensor connected to the phone, it is possible to update the sensor”s settings and configuration information (such as network security keys), then establish an 802.15.4 connection to the Wi-Fi network pod and disconnect the sensor from the phone”s Bluetooth low-power connection. 

5. Do other standards exist?
Many IoT standards and initiatives have been introduced over the past decade, but none have dominated the IoT market. One reason is that, unlike Wi-Fi, IoT standards need to define application protocols. Value creation is often enabled by applications, e.g., why is central locking commonly used in cars but not in rooms? In addition, large companies are betting on markets that are growing fast enough to enter complete ecosystems, but such markets are not emerging. Let”s look at health monitoring devices. Different devices offer different advantages, but how can one brand of scale work with another brand of sleep monitor, pedometer or heart rhythm monitor? 

Vendors are coming to realize that by sharing communication standards and application protocols, consumers can choose the products they prefer without being limited to a proprietary non-communication ecosystem, which is a true plug-and-play scenario. Common sense dictates that the smart world is waiting for interoperability that can benefit everyone. A true plug-and-play smart ecosystem. 

Can this new smart system be backward compatible with current systems in the future? To a large extent, yes. Wi-Fi 6 is already fully backward compatible with technologies like Wi-Fi 5. But will CHIP be backward compatible with existing Bluetooth and ZigBee devices in the future? No. There is no backward compatibility with radio or network protocols, for example, new CHP-based luminaires will not work in older ZigBee networks. However, both can work with Wi-Fi 6 networks, and application integration will occur as a result. 

In summary

As a result, the market is likely to see an explosion of Wi-Fi 6 CHIP devices. Everything in the home will be “Wi-Fi connected” in the consumer”s perception. This will be achieved through Wi-Fi 6 EasyMesh, where end devices will communicate with Wi-Fi 6 networks either directly through Wi-Fi radios (end devices with keyboards and screens) or through smartphone settings and IEEE 802.15.4 radios. 

CHIP and Wi-Fi 6 will be the ideal combination to greatly simplify indoor/smart home networking and sensor connectivity via Wi-Fi mesh, benefit from reduced power consumption, smaller battery size and longer battery life, and simplify the fragmented technology landscape.

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Categorized as Smart Home

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