Qualcomm is now launching a new platform that will help with the control and use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the home. The new Mesh Networking Platform was unveiled at Computex 2017 and it combines some existing technologies with new features, and includes a reference design for device makers.
The platform comes with the Qualcomm's IPQ40x8/9, a chip that is already used in a number of mesh networking routers. It also includes "WiFi Self Organizing (SON) features" that will make setup and management easier, while also adding support for voice controls. Other features include support for 802.11ad, 802.11ax, Powerline, Bluetooth and ZigBee protocols for smart home/IoT applications.
- IoT connectivity feature suite - A 802.15.4 (ZigBee) radio, as well as Bluetooth (with the CSRmesh functionality), has been added to enable the new systems to interact directly with smart home devices (without the need for an IP bridge in the middle). Since ZigBee and Bluetooth also operate in the 2.4 GHz band, Qualcomm has added interference mitigation to the board design so that the ZigBee and Bluetooth connectivity don't impact the performance of the Wi-Fi sub-system.
- Voice assistant capabilities - The popularity of voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc. has resulted in multiple Wi-Fi devices in the home whose sole functionality is to listen and respond to voice commands. These devices end up impacting the overall Wi-Fi performance in the home for very limited functionality. This use-case is perfect for integration into the units of a mesh Wi-Fi system. Qualcomm is integrating support for APIs to various popular cloud-based assistant applications into their reference design.
- Carrier-grade features - New firmware features enable easy cloud-based management capabilities. In addition, Qualcomm is also exposing certain APIs to customers that will enable porting of SON features into routers / extenders based on silicon from other vendors.
- Additional backhaul capabilities - Current generation mesh networking kits include a wide variety of backhaul options including Wi-Fi, wired Ethernet, and PLC (powerline communication). Qualcomm is also advertising 802.11ad, as well as 11axsupport for backhaul purposes.