Virtually speaking: Smart architectures for smart home gateways: Page 2 of 8

September 28, 2017 //By Simon Forrest, Director of Segment Marketing, Imagination
We’re at the dawn of a new technological revolution: an era where billions of hitherto disparate and unrelated devices become connected and able to share information. Of course, we all recognise this as the onset of the “Internet of Things”, which promises to make everyone’s lives simpler and easier.

So, IoT and smart home products employ more appropriate standards such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, Thread and Bluetooth, chosen to provide the ideal balance between power consumption, bandwidth and coverage for specific applications. While some of the more advanced home gateways are now integrating additional radio standards, this isn’t commonplace and instead service operators supply small form-factor IoT hubs to provide the necessary connectivity, which are often little more than an Ethernet bridge to their chosen radio technology.

This is an easy solution but it inevitably leads to several IoT hubs connected to the existing home router, usually one for each service. This increases the amount of hardware in the home, which is potentially confusing for the consumer, and is also environmentally unfriendly. Furthermore, it also creates potential for unreliable connectivity due to overlapping networks: after all, there’s no guarantee that two different IoT hubs won’t be using the same radio frequencies and networking protocols.

A solution to this would be to absorb that hardware into the existing home gateway, however, doing so is not without challenges.

Figure 1: The current approach to smart home: IoT hubs.

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