HomeBuildingsAmazon picks LoRa for smart-home telco platform – plus Nordic, Silicon Labs, Tile

Amazon picks LoRa for smart-home telco platform – plus Nordic, Silicon Labs, Tile

Amazon has selected LoRa for its new Sidewalk wireless networking platform, running in 900 MHz spectrum, according to Semtech. Camarillo-based Semtech hailed its technology’s move into the consumer space. At the same time, Nordic Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, and Tile have variously said they have also been selected by Amazon to provide technology for its nascent Sidewalk smart-home ecosystem.

Semtech, which licences LoRa-based chips to run on LoRaWAN-based low-power wide-area networks, said LoRa devices will be compatible with the Sidewalk connectivity platform, announced by Amazon towards the end of 2019 to extend the range and capabilities of residential wireless networks, both indoors and outdoors. Amazon Sidewalk is geared to support LoRa’s chirp spread spectrum (CSS) and frequency shift keying (FSK), as well as Bluetooth.

Amazon Sidewalk is described as a “crowd-sourced wireless network”, which operates as a private low-power neighbourhood-area wireless network, with no airtime fees. It is designed to support low-bandwidth smart-home gadgetry, such as lighting and home controls. It provides extended coverage as well, as devices like low-rate pet-trackers and perimeter garden-controls roam outside of standard wireless home network coverage.

Mohan Maheswaran, president and chief executive at Semtech commented: “Semtech’s LoRa is a proven IoT solution that supports a long range LPWA network platform and meets Amazon Sidewalk’s goal of providing the network support to connect a broad range of low-power home devices. The collaboration with Amazon solidifies that LoRa is the de facto platform for IoT LPWA applications and expands LoRa to new consumer applications.”

Amazon reckons its Sidewalk platform, connecting low-rate LoRa-based devices, will enable coverage of up to one kilometre for smart home products like trackers. The platform is also designed to support short-range Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity, as a complement to its 900 MHz protocol. Nordic Semiconductor has been appointed to develop BLE solutions for Amazon Sidewalk.

Nordic Semiconductor said it will provide and maintain a Device Porting Kit (DPK) for its wireless chips that allows them to be easily and natively integrated into Amazon Common Software (ACS) as one of its reference platforms. ACS is geared to help accelerate the development of smart home and other wireless products. Its nRF52840 system-on-chip (SoC) supports concurrent connectivity with Bluetooth, Thread, and Zigbee.

Its nRF5340 SoC  features multi-protocol support enabling concurrent BLE and Bluetooth, Thread, and Zigbee for mesh networks.

Kjetil Holstad, director of product management at Nordic Semiconductor, said: “Our nRF52 and nRF53 series SoCs have made Nordic a leader in the supply of short-range wireless technology for the smart home and related applications such as asset tracking. By cooperating with both Amazon Sidewalk and ACS, we will be able to help customers build smart home products that will bring even greater convenience, flexibility and safety to consumers.”

Meanwhile, Silicon Labs has said it will enable developers to create IoT products with encrypted cloud communication, no matter which protocol is used. Its EFR Wireless Gecko products support Sidewalk’s sub-GHz and BLE protocols. It said Sidewalk will “power new device experiences” in the future, including tools that can “self-diagnose problems and order replacement parts, deliver improved range with reduced energy consumption for smart locks, and offer the ability to locate pets or valuables throughout your neighborhood.”

Jake Alamat, vice president and general manager of IoT home and consumer products at Silicon Labs, said: “Silicon Labs and Amazon are teaming up to help OEMs create amazing new user experiences with secure, private, easy to set up Sidewalk IoT devices.”

As well, smart tracker brand Tile has said its tracking product, which can be attached to sundry home items, has been named as the first third-party device on Amazon Sidewalk, launching later this year. Tile is compatible with Amazon, Comcast, and Google devices.

Jeff Houlé, chief business officer at Tile, said: “Our existing collaboration with Amazon allows users to find their lost items with a simple voice command. And now our expanded partnership with Amazon Sidewalk will extend and strengthen Tile’s finding power meaning less looking, and easier finding.”

Analyst house IHS Markit says the global smart home market will grow by a factor of five to reach more than $192 billion in 2023, increasing from the $41 billion in revenues in 2018.

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