System-on-a-chip (SoC) vendor Sigma Designs introduced its next-generation product portfolio, which is based on the Z-Wave wireless protocol, that was designed to improve the performance of home control devices.
Sigma’s Z-Wave Next Gen product portfolio was designed for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers interested in developing home control products and services. Mark Walters, chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance, said Sigma’s new Next Gen 500 series chips and modules were a step up in performance.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen a new hardware platform,” Walters said. “The 500 chip series allows folks in the Z-Wave community to do some pretty exciting stuff. You get more bandwidth, better RF performance and protocol extensions to make the plug and play experience easier as they (home users) move things through the house. It’s pretty exciting.
Along with increased memory, the 500 series also boasts of lower power consumption.
"Quick and efficient deployment, cost reductions, and an improved customer experience are all goals that our partners strive to achieve," said Gabi Hilevitz, vice president and general manger of home connectivity at Sigma Designs. "The Z-Wave Next Gen platform empowers developers through a flexible yet simplified solution that allows them to focus on consumers' needs, while significantly reducing their time to market."
The rest of the platform includes:
• Z-Ware, the middleware for home control that forms an intelligent application programming interface (API) and provides capabilities such as configuration, scenes and device control, schedules, and statistics;
• Z-Ware Apps, the fully customizable user interface reference designs that provide a consistent look and feel across multiple platforms including PC, TV, tablet, smartphone, and other cloud based services;
• ZIPR, a reference design to handle all translation between Z-Wave, IP and the Z-Wave mesh network;
• Z/IP Gateway, the gateway reference designs that transforms IP protocol commands to Z-Wave command and vice versa;
• UZB, a USB Z-Wave controller reference design to enable Z-Wave functionality via a USB port.
There are more than 700 interoperable devices that use Z-Wave and it’s been deployed by, among others, AT&T, Verizon and ADT. By contrast, cable operators have largely thrown their home automation lot behind ZigBee.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks are all using iControl’s software to provision their home automation services, but Walters said iControl also supported Z-Wave. Walters also said that Z-Wave worked with more devices and companies than ZigBee.
"Z-Wave has made significant steps forward on multiple levels. The Z-Ware platform, Z/IP gateways, and Next Gen 500 series chips and modules provide an end-to-end solution that allows manufacturers and service providers to bring products to market faster. Z-Wave products will have greater capability, flexibility, and lower costs, further accelerating a rapidly growing home control market," said Tom Kerber, director of research, home controls and energy, Parks Associates.