Among wireless technology options for IoT products, Wi-Fi has unique advantages due to its ubiquity and native IP support. Additionally, the recent explosion of mobile and web apps provide an ideal way to interact with Wi-Fi technology, leveraging the near 100 percent attach rate in smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Why add Wi-Fi to home appliances?
However, manufacturers considering Wi-Fi could still struggle to imagine the exact use cases for adding wireless connectivity to traditional home appliances. Let’s consider a few specific use cases that address this question:
- A dishwasher or washing machine with Wi-Fi connectivity to allow remote scheduling and notification of both the consumer and manufacturer if there is a leak or malfunction.
- A Wi-Fi-enabled lawn sprinkler system which allows the user to easily set a program using an Android or smartphone application and leverage its connection to the Internet to automatically shut it off in case of rain.
- A home automation system with Wi-Fi that provides control of LED lighting, an audio system and more without the hassle and expense of running network cables through the ceiling or walls.
Adding Wi-Fi connectivity to these systems requires a new approach to the technology since traditionally most high-throughput broadband wireless connectivity technologies have required powerful microprocessors (MPUs) capable of hosting the drivers in some sort of high-level OS, such as Linux. Among wireless technologies, Wi-Fi has been especially limited to MPU architectures and reserved for higher-end and more complicated designs because of the complexities associated with running and controlling Wi-Fi technology. But this is all changing.
With Texas Instruments’ (TI) SimpleLink™ Wi-Fi CC3000, the only additional software required on the MCU is a small CC3000 control driver, in addition to the normal MCU application code. Basically all of the software traditionally required to support Wi-Fi is embedded in the CC3000, including the TCP/IP stack, Wi-Fi driver and security supplicant. Because the software is embedded on the Wi-Fi device, the memory footprint on the MCU can be as low as 6kB of Flash and 3kB of RAM. Beyond the primary challenge of software complexity, a Wi-Fi solution for MCU-based systems also needs to be simple and reliable. Few MCU customers have the time, budget or in-house RF capability required to develop a Wi-Fi radio design. Here, having certified RF modules such as those offered by TI’s SimpleLink partners is a huge benefit.
So how would this all work in the real world? A manufacturer could pair a Stellaris® ARM Cortex™-M4 microcontroller with the SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3000 to enable their device to retrieve information from the Internet, such as the weather or energy pricing. Check out the video below to learn more.
Guest Partner Blogger:
Kurtz holds an executive master’s degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
ARM welcomes its wealth of Partners in the ARM Connected Community (CC) to submit guest blogs to be published on our multiple community blogs. If interested in participating please submit email inquiries to Tell.Us@arm.com.
The ARM Connected Community (CC) is an extensive ecosystem covering all aspects of ARM processor-based design, from chip implementation through to system and device design. The CC provides a platform for collaborative innovation, with multiple types of forums for members to work with one another, and with customers, to solve industry challenges, all with the purpose of enabling designers to focus on differentiating features and an accelerated time-to-market for ARM powered solutions.
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