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Wi-Fi Bluetooth Combo Solutions Find Niche in IoT Wearables | Cypress Semiconductor

Wi-Fi Bluetooth Combo Solutions Find Niche in IoT Wearables

Jeff Baer, senior director of product marketing for the Wi-Fi / Bluetooth combo business unit at Cypress, discusses the company’s industry-leading Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo technology and how it will play a pivotal role in transforming the IoT landscape.

What are Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo solutions, and how did Cypress get involved in making them?

Many years ago (when this team was part of Broadcom), we realized that the smartphone would become a primary user of both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and that it made sense to combine the two technologies for size, cost, and power management advantages. As a result, we developed and created the world’s first working Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip. The primary complication we grappled with was the fact that both traditional Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operate in the 2.4 Ghz band. Using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth together (like when you stream music from your phone to your earbuds) creates interference and huge performance problems. We did an immense amount of development around Wi-Fi/Bluetooth coexistence, and were able to solve the technical challenge.

Combo solutions are at the heart of our IoT business now. It turns out that the technical challenges that you need to address for the smartphone is the same for the average IoT device. And, more and more devices are becoming wirelessly connected, so the opportunity is immense and growing. The IoT business is the second-largest revenue-generator for Cypress and will remain a solid foundation for our future growth.

 

How do Cypress’ combo solutions provide a competitive advantage for IoT devices?

When it comes to wireless, interoperability is the killer feature. If a device can’t reliably connect to the customer’s access point in 10 or 15 minutes out of the box, products will be returned, and  will not succeed in the market. Fortunately, Cypress has well-established interoperability with a broad array of APs, broadband modems, smartphones and other devices that people need to connect to. In consumer devices, where product margins are very thin, this can easily be the difference between success and failure.

A second competitive advantage for Cypress is the quality of our radios. Our radios have consistently been the best in the industry for more than 15 years. They provide better range, and the ability to connect reliably to other products in ways that can be problematic for other chip vendors. 

Another competitive edge is quality. Everyone loves low cost, but the lowest-cost solutions on the market don’t have the interoperability or performance that we do. Saving 30 to 50 cents on a product that does not work reliably is a false economy. We are proud to be a leading quality supplier to the IoT market.

 

Which IoT products can benefit most from wireless combo solutions?

Smart watches, smart phones, and e-readers are just a few great examples of IoT products that can benefit from Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo technology. They use Wi-Fi to download content (which is usually large and needs the high data-rate that Wi-Fi delivers) and Bluetooth to share that content with another battery-powered short-range device. But really any device that uses both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth would be a great fit for this technology.

 

Cypress offers several combo solutions. How do customers know which one to pick?

Cypress’ wireless solutions are offered in a variety of form factors, depending on the customer’s use case. Some customers need higher levels of performance and throughput. Others need to connect to a particular bus interface: SDIO, PCIE, or USB, for example. Battery-powered devices have particular pwer-management requirements. We have devices that meet all of these criteria. Another variable that customers care about is output power. Some IoT applications require a very strong signal, with the ability to penetrate walls and span tens or even hundreds of meters, while other devices, like wearables, operate over very short distances……but long battery life is extremely important. Triangulating these factors, we can point customers to the appropriate device in our portfolio that best meets their needs. Fortunately, we have a very broad portfolio of different options.

 

What is next on the Cypress IoT connectivity roadmap?

IoT devices almost universally consist of both a processor or and a connectivity chip. Fortunately, Cypress has strong products in both areas (PSoC). Historically, when you have two chips that work together all the time, integration is the next obvious step. Going forward, we will continue to look at ways to build more-integrated and smarter versions of our wireless devices, leveraging our core technical strengths. We are also going to continue to focus on improving features that are imperative to IoT device adoption, including extending battery life, reducing cost, and shrinking device form factors.

Voice control will continue to be a huge catalyst for IoT adoption – people love to engage with their IoT devices using verbal commands. Once you have voice control, it becomes even easier to connect more devices and functions in the home. Cypress’ vision is that one day, anything and everything that’s electronic is going to be connected wirelessly...it just makes sense. We are taking advantage of this vision and driving the connected universe. It’s an enormous opportunity.

For more information about Cypress’ wireless Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo solutions for wearables, please CLICK HERE…

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