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Reference designs streamline dev't of connected home devices

Posted: 19 Nov 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Silicon Labs  ZigBee  reference design  Wi-Fi  connected home 

Silicon Labs has rolled out a series of comprehensive reference designs that promises to minimise time to market and ease the development of ZigBee-based home automation, connected lighting and smart gateway products. Included are hardware, firmware and software tools that developers need to create interoperable, scalable, feature-rich connected home products based on Silicon Labs' ZigBee "Golden Unit" Home Automation (HA 1.2) software stack and ZigBee SoC mesh networking technology, indicated the company.

Silicon Labs created cost-effective reference designs to significantly cut the complexity of connecting ZigBee devices, such as lights, dimmer switches and door/window contact sensors, in a connected home network. This design simplicity translates into exceptional ease of use for consumers who are increasingly purchasing "do-it-yourself" connected home products at leading home improvement retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes.

Silicon Labs' ZigBee connected lighting reference designs feature wireless lighting boards as well as a plug-in demo board suitable for quick demonstrations and testing. The Golden Unit ZigBee stack allows LED lights to reliably join, interoperate and leave a mesh network, as well as scale from a few to hundreds of light nodes on the same network.

ZigBee connected home reference designs

ZigBee connected home reference designs

Silicon Labs' ZigBee-based home automation reference designs include a capacitive-sense dimmable light switch and a small-form-factor door/window contact sensor. The light switch provides colour, colour tuning and dimming control capabilities that traditional switches cannot achieve. Unlike conventional switches, these wireless, battery-powered switches have no moving parts and are easy to place anywhere in a home. The switch design features Silicon Labs' EFM8 capacitive sensing MCU to detect different user gestures (touch, hold and swipe). The contact sensor reference design provides all the tools needed to create wireless, battery-powered sensors used to monitor door and window positions (open or closed), a useful feature for automatically triggering room lighting.

Silicon Labs offers two ZigBee gateway options to complement the reference designs: a plug-and-play USB virtual gateway that works with any PC development platform and supports the Windows, OS X and Linux environments as a virtual machine; and an "out-of-the-box" Wi-Fi/Ethernet gateway reference design based on an embedded Linux computer system.

Both gateway options allow developers to control and monitor ZigBee HA 1.2 compliant end nodes through Wi-Fi with any device with a web browser, such as a smartphone or tablet. Using an intuitive, web-based user interface, developers can easily create rules between ZigBee end devices including lights, dimmable light switches and contact sensors.

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