To aid developers of smart connected home products, Silicon Labs recently introduced a series of comprehensive reference designs that reduce time to market and simplify the development of ZigBee based home automation, connected lighting and smart gateway solutions.
The new reference designs, which are the first in a series of turnkey IoT solutions from Silicon Labs, include the hardware, firmware and software tools that developers need to create interoperable, scalable, feature-rich connected home products. The designs are based on Silicon Labs’ robust, industry-leading ZigBee ‘Golden Unit’ Home Automation (HA 1.2) software stack and ZigBee system-on-chip (SoC) mesh networking technology.
“Developers creating connected home products want simple, high-performance, battery-friendly solutions that make wireless design fast, easy and straightforward,” said Greg Hodgson, senior director of IoT Solutions at Silicon Labs. “Our new connected lighting, home automation and ZigBee gateway reference designs meet these developer priorities, providing the most robust, easiest to use hardware/software solutions available.”
The reference designs are cost-effective and significantly reduce the complexity of connecting ZigBee devices, such as lights, dimmer switches and door/window contact sensors, in a connected home network.
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. The connected lights can support white, color temperature tuning and RGB color settings as well as dimming.
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
• 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.
The connected lighting and home automation reference designs support the following features:
• Silicon Labs’ industry-leading EM358x mesh networking SoCs, combining an ARM Cortex-M3 processor core with a low-power 2.4GHz 802.15.4 transceiver
• Low-power designs enabling very long battery life: up to three years for dimmable light switches and up to five years for contact sensors on a CR2032 coin-cell battery
• Silicon Labs’ Golden Unit ZigBee PRO-certified software stack and ZigBee HA 1.2-certified applications, enabling interoperability with other HA 1.2-certified devices
• Over-the-air ZigBee updates and future-proof upgrades to Silicon Labs’ Thread software
• Mesh networking capability scaling from tens to hundreds of nodes with individual selectivity, without costly rewiring of existing systems
• Best-in-class wireless development kit with configuration and debugging tools to simplify design, as well as packet trace port on EM358x SoCs for network signal debugging
• FCC/CE pre-certified hardware for easy system configuration and fast time to market
• Complete schematics, layout and bill of materials (BOM)