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Making Interoperable Smart Home Ecosystems a Reality

Telink Staff

May 26, 2021

Applications

Woman using tablet

Integrating a smart home hub like an Amazon Echo into a Bluetooth® Mesh network lays the groundwork for a highly interoperable smart device ecosystem.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers own at least one smart home device, and for the last several years, growth in smart home device shipments has exceeded growth in smartphone and tablet shipments. In order to maximize the value of their smart home devices, consumers must be able to build cohesive smart home ecosystems that incorporate everything from smart lights and smart locks to smart televisions and entertainment systems.

Building such an ecosystem involves more than simply buying an assortment of devices and connecting them all to the internet. Consumers need smart devices that are able to communicate with each other seamlessly in the context of a smart home. Typically, this is achieved via a device like an Amazon Echo that functions as a smart home hub and offers a centralized way to manage all the connected devices in an ecosystem.

It should be unsurprising, then, that smart speakers like the Echo are the most popular type of smart home device: 31 percent of U.S. consumers own a smart speaker, whereas 24 percent own a smart thermostat and 20 percent own a smart lighting device.

Amazon Alexa: For More Than Just Playing Music

Alexa, the virtual assistant that functions as the “brain” of Echo smart speakers, has developed a versatile feature set that extends far beyond its original web search and music playback capabilities.

Compatible with countless devices from a wide array of manufacturers, Alexa has become one of the clear leaders in smart home device management. Consumers can use Alexa to manage the layers of their home security systems (smart locks, camera systems, and so forth), control a variety of entertainment and lifestyle devices, and even group together smart home devices so that they respond in unison to voice or mobile app commands.

Not that long ago, a lack of interoperability among smart home devices would have made this degree of device control nearly impossible. Fortunately, as Alexa has evolved, so too have smart home networking solutions like Bluetooth® Mesh. When deployed together, Alexa and Bluetooth Mesh networking empower consumers to create smart home ecosystems that are as high-performing as they are easy to control.

A Brief Overview of Bluetooth® Mesh

Bluetooth Mesh enables many-to-many device communication via Bluetooth LE connections. Its vast coverage area, ability to integrate large numbers of devices, energy efficiency, and compatibility with smartphones, tablets, and computers make it an ideal networking solution for smart home ecosystems.

Additionally, because Bluetooth Mesh operates on a flood network principle, Bluetooth Mesh networks are more reliable than other types of networks are. This topology ensures that a mesh network will not experience disruption even if one device (or “node”) in the network fails — data will simply be rerouted along any number of alternative paths to ensure successful command execution.

Combining Amazon Alexa with Bluetooth® Mesh

To build an effective smart home ecosystem, a consumer must be able to easily control many devices simultaneously — if, for instance, one has to turn on/off each individual smart lighting fixture in their home one-by-one, the convenience benefits of smart lighting quickly disappear.

What is the best way to gain this level of control? Oftentimes, the best approach involves integrating an Alexa-equipped hub device (like an Echo) into a Bluetooth Mesh network. This not only allows a consumer to control smart home devices with their voice, but ensures that the devices operate in concert with each other to maximize efficiency. In practice, this might look something like this:

Beyond smart lighting fixtures, consumers can use Alexa to remotely control home security cameras, video doorbells, smart door locks, robotic vacuum cleaners, HVAC systems, and more in a similar fashion.

Telink Support for Amazon Alexa

At Telink, our chips are designed to deliver the high performance, power efficiency, low BOM cost, and interoperability that developers need to create the kind of top-notch IoT devices that empower consumers to build cohesive, efficient smart home ecosystems. Our TLSR9 series integrates a powerful 32-bit RISC-V MCU with features like local keyword spotting (KWS), voice command recognition, and advanced acoustic algorithms that facilitate the creation of fully voice-enabled device ecosystems.

Further, our Bluetooth Mesh SDK includes native support for Amazon Alexa. As illustrated in the video above, when programmed properly, a smart device built on a Telink chip will be discoverable by a smart home hub like Amazon Echo. Once a consumer connects this smart device to the same mesh network as their Echo, they will be able to control the device either by instructing Alexa through voice commands or using the Amazon Alexa mobile app. True to Telink’s mission, this lays the groundwork for a better, smarter IoT.

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