Futurists’ Playground: A Look Inside Broadcom’s Booth at CES 2014 | Cypress Semiconductor
Futurists’ Playground: A Look Inside Broadcom’s Booth at CES 2014
LAS VEGAS — Deep in the heart of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s cavernous South Hall, Broadcom’s booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show puts the spotlight on some of the coolest emerging technologies displayed here this week.
The expansive booth, upholstered in white leather and plush carpeting and staffed by many of Broadcom’s best and brightest engineers, featured a number of demonstrations. In case you weren’t on-hand this week to see them, here’s a sampling of what was on display.
Internet of Things and Wearable Tech Get Real
Perhaps the most fun demos involved connected devices ranging from the iGrill remote meat thermometer to Internet-connected candy dispensers. “We’re starting to see real devices that really work and solve real problems,” said Brian Bedrosian, senior director in Broadcom’s Mobile & Wireless Group.
Broadcom is a leader in the technologies that connect all of the thousands of devices that make up the Internet of Things, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® Smart, Near Field Communication (NFC) and GPS. Broadcom’s WICED™ (Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices) platform simplifies wireless connectivity for device manufacturers, Bedrosian said, allowing things like fitness trackers and networked thermostats to connect to the cloud and run apps more easily.
Wearables, a fast-growing subset of the Internet of Things that glean biometric data from sensors worn on the body, had a big showing at the booth. Bedrosian demonstrated the ePulse2 wearable heart-rate monitor, an example of a clinical healthcare monitor that patients might take home from the hospital.Apart from the Kickstarter-backed Lifx LED Smartbulb, my favorite was the Quirky remote-controlled pivot-power flexible powerstrip, that lets you use your smartphone to turn various devices on and off. But maybe that’s because I actually owned a Clapper at one point in my life.
Watch a video of Broadcom’s Bedrosian talking about WICED:
Connected Cars Get Moving
While there wasn’t room for an actual car in the booth, Broadcom showed a wall-sized display featuring multiple connected car demos. BroadR-Reach® Ethernet, for example, played audio and video on multiple screens at 100 Mbps running over a single twisted pair of lightweight, unshielded wires. BroadR-Reach Ethernet is already on the road in the BMW X5 series and will soon show up in mainstream vehicles from top five automakers.
The choice of using wired or wireless connectivity technologies for the car depends on the car itself and the application, said Broadcom’s Timothy Lau, associate director of product marketing for the Infrastructure & Networking Group. He explained that many automakers already run wires into the head units on the rear seat, and leveraging existing wired connections can be easier, faster, and cheaper than going wireless. And it helps cut down on troublesome electromagnetic interference in challenging automotive environments.
The exhibit also demonstrated the new Bluetooth software stack for seamless connectivity with Android devices and new wireless chips including the 5G WiFi/Bluetooth Smart combo that’s expected to help bring a new ecosystem of mobile apps, customization and rich content to the car.
Wi-Fi Gets, Much, Much Faster
Imagine walking up to movie rental station in the local market, downloading an entire HD movie … in 10 seconds! That’s the promise of 60 GHz Wi-Fi, which under the right conditions can transfer at an unheard-of rate of 4 gigabits over short distances.
“It goes really fast, but it doesn’t go very far,” said Clint Brown, director of business development, WLAN, in the Mobile & Wireless Group at Boadcom.
A range of up to 12 feet makes 60GHz Wi-Fi perfect for in-room, point-to-point applications like wireless docking of PC and tablets or mounting a set top box away from the TV without needing unsightly HDMI cables. It even saves battery power, too, because the transmitter has to turn on only for short bursts. The booth features a demo visually showing just how fast the technology can transfer truly large files.
Even better, it can also work with 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi in tri-band solutions that leverage the characteristics of each spectrum segment. For example, in an airport, your mobile device could use 2.4GHz connections to locate a connected place to work, then sync your devices using 5GHz Wi-Fi and then download large files over the 60GHz band. The goal, Brown explained, is to deliver a seamless experience using whatever works best for a particular distance and application.
Wireless Entertainment Gets More Fun
Forget having to run cable to all the many entertainment devices in your home. Broadcom demonstrated a number of advancements in streaming entertaining content throughout the house, on multiple devices. Powered by the BCM43569 and BCM43602, which enable makers of gateways and set-top boxes to deliver the speed, range and bandwidth requirements for streaming HD-quality content and online gaming.
Broadcom demonstrated wireless gaming with Android micro-consoles combining Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity with advanced co-existence to reduce interference. Miracast support means that the gaming output can be streamed to more than multiple screens at the same time, great for group gaming sessions.
TV Select, meanwhile, lets viewers use their smart devices to select and listen to TV audio — either to avoid disturbing others at home or to listen in public environments like airports, gyms, and sports bars.
Finally, Broadcom demonstrated improvements in Wi-Fi audio. Attendees listened to wireless speakers designed to deliver high-fidelity wireless surround sound for digital televisions with fewer of the glitches that often plague wireless speakers. Plus, you can link and control the speaker network right from the television.
Ultra HD and Smart TV Get the Picture
Broadcom also showed off many of the over-the-top (OTT) media player innovations it announced just before CES. Booth visitors could check out high-end set top boxes that leveraged Broadcom’s two new HEVC video-compression chips to cut bandwidth requirements in half in order deliver 4K content more easily or provide new flexibility for HD video.
The demo showed the new chips running a 4K stream on one TV, or two different HD streams on two different TVs. Trellis Remote Set-Top Display Mirroring leveraged Miracast technology to enable a single set-top box with two outputs to show two different HD football games at the same time on two different screens – a clear win for obsessed sports fans, said Broadcom’s Thomas Fehr, director of product marketing, cable, in the Broadband Communications Group.
A dual-beam remote demo let viewers control two screens from a single device, or browse the Web for the latest stats on one device while watching live sports on the other – or show one screen as a picture-in-picture display on a 4K screen. And there was even a complete set-top box reduced to the size of a USB-powered dongle, easily hidden behind a wall-mounted screen for an uncluttered look.
But by far the coolest TV demo was a Multi-PIP HD presentation where a single set top box powered four — count ‘em, four — HD streams on a single Ultra HD screen. The idea is that operators could create sports bundles, for example, or integrate social media with their programming, all on one Ultra HD screen.
Also of interest was the demo of an Android “puck” and dongle. In two compact form factors, they pack in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the best of the Android app ecosystem for smart TVs.
Fehr noted that the dongle started as a simple research project at Broadcom, but is now almost ready to ship and is designed to turn the world’s 2 billion digital TVs into smart TVs.