Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Software combines Bluetooth LE and sub-GHz for IoT smart energy devices

Steve Rogerson
June 19, 2018

Software from Texas-based Silicon Labs lets end users set up and control sub-GHz smart energy, commercial and industrial applications with easy-to-use mobile apps.
The software options for the company’s Wireless Gecko portfolio enable simultaneous sub-GHz and 2.4GHz Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity on a single chip. This lets commercial and industrial IoT applications combine long-range sub-GHz communications with Bluetooth connectivity, simplifying device setup, data gathering and maintenance.
By avoiding the complexity of two-chip wireless architectures, developers can speed time-to-market and reduce cost and size by up to 40 per cent.
The Wireless Gecko hardware and software let users set up, control and monitor sub-GHz IoT devices directly over Bluetooth with mobile apps. By adding Bluetooth LE connectivity to wireless networks in the sub-GHz band, developers can deliver capabilities such as faster over-the-air updates and deploy scalable, location-based service infrastructure with Bluetooth beacons.
Proprietary sub-GHz protocols are commonly used in low-data-rate systems, from simple point-to-point connections to large mesh networks and low-power wide area networks, where extended range, robust radio links and energy efficiency are priorities. Sub-GHz connectivity is a good fit for long-range wireless sensor networks, smart metering, home and building automation, and commercial lighting.
"Sub-GHz wireless protocols are widespread in smart energy, industrial and commercial applications," said Lee Ratliff, senior principal analyst at IHS Markit. "Ubiquitous support of Bluetooth in mobile devices has created demand for multiband, multiprotocol wireless that can bridge the gap between Bluetooth LE and sub-GHz proprietary protocols, enabling legacy applications to leverage the power of the mobile device ecosystem."
Silicon Labs is a provider of silicon and software. The company has more than 20 years of experience delivering integrated RF and has shipped more than 750 million wireless devices for IoT end nodes.
"Silicon Labs' new software makes it easier to set up and manage a wide range of sub-GHz wireless devices in the field through easy-to-use mobile apps and Bluetooth connectivity," said Dennis Natale, vice president of IoT products at Silicon Labs. "Our Wireless Gecko portfolio provides a single chip that reduces design costs, simplifies hardware and software development, and accelerates time to market."
The multiprotocol software is available to users of the firm’s EFR32MG and EFR32BG Wireless Gecko SoCs. Silicon Labs provides software tools to simplify sub-GHz and Bluetooth development, including a connected lighting demonstration and a sample mobile application.