Smart Home Technology is About Cooperation, Not Competition
September 14, 2021
The past 18 months have led to an increased demand for efficient and reliable connectivity solutions, particularly in the home. More than ever, we relied on it for remote work, virtual education, entertainment, and far more. If connectivity was unstable, we felt that impact in our daily lives, and immediately.
This pushed the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality toward connectivity aside, with consumers everywhere now paying more and more attention to it. The expectation is that we’re always connected, whether it’s in the home, in our backyard, throughout the neighborhood, and everywhere in-between.
While many are familiar with mainstream IoT solutions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 5G, their capabilities and features were developed for specific use cases, mostly in the home. Now, there has been an increase in conversation and adoption around Semtech’s LoRa® devices and the LoRaWAN® standard, which is designed to solve the connectivity challenges that other technologies face. While it may feel like LoRaWAN is “invading” the home, it’s important to understand the various IoT solutions, their capabilities, and where they’ll be utilized best. LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN standard offers new capabilities in the smart home environment, increasing customer willingness to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) at home.
Understanding the pros and cons to each solution is essential when analyzing the market and assessing which makes sense to deploy for your needs:
- LoRa / LoRaWAN: Offers low battery consumption, short to long range, seamless cloud integration in a cost effective roll out, enabling any type of business model such as DIY; or packaged into a service provider IoT home offering). However, it’s not ideal for applications requiring high data rates or lower latency.
- Wi-Fi: Offers a simplified and cost effective deployment, is considered a strong alternative to 5G on the last mile, potentially combined with open roaming enabling interconnection of multiple Wi-Fi networks. However, it has a limited coverage range and high energy requirements.
- BLE: Offers low cost and simple set up given it doesn’t require any additional hardware; however BLE has a short connection time, short range and low bandwidth.
- 5G: Offers higher capacity, higher data rates and lower latency, along with a software designed core network; however, 5G may have a shorter range in mmWave (frequencies above 3GHz), is costly, and requires an energy-hungry and complex infrastructure.
- ZigBee: Offers stronger mesh capabilities when compared to Wi-Fi, along with flexibility for users and backend developers. On the flip side, it is short range and brings high maintenance costs.
The goal of LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN standard isn’t necessarily to replace existing technologies; rather, their adoption is targeted at solving new problems for customers and complementing existing IoT solutions to enable new use cases. For example, Wi-Fi performs best within the four walls of a home in high throughput broadband application (camera video streaming or internet surfing). As you step outside, into your yard, and down the street, the connection quickly diminishes, and is lost entirely. Some may even experience this lack of connectivity as they move from room to room in a larger home. LoRaWAN on the other hand can penetrate dense building materials, and its long-range capabilities enable connectivity that can go the distance. It’s catering to the demand of pet tracking if you’re looking to locate your dog who has wandered down the street, it reaches your attic and basement, collects real-time data to alert homeowners of an unlocked door or pipe leak, and far more. Its long range, low power, and extensive battery life fill the gap that alternative solutions aren’t equipped to handle.
These complementary solutions are opening new areas of innovations across vertical use cases on a market segment where there is no one-size-fits-all technology, and are ensuring there’s no lapse in connectivity. While there are many IoT solutions on the market, businesses, organizations, and consumers should be aware of their options, and understand the role each solution plays in connecting their everyday lives.