Three Ways to Set the Stage for Incredible Connected Experiences in the Smart Home

Panoramic photo of modern house with outdoor and indoor lighting, at night
Intel highlights faster home connectivity and smart speaker solutions at COMPUTEX 2018

 

In the connected home market, technology companies and service providers know that complacency leads to obsolescence. For consumers to put out the welcome mat for new products and services, they’re looking for something that not only meets their needs today, but also sets the stage for what’s to come.

By 2020, the average home will have more than 35 connected devices,1 including new types of intelligent devices, like smart speakers with screens. According to emarketer.com, 60.5 million Americans use virtual assistants at least once a month. And while 10 percent of consumers already own an AI-enabled product, nearly one in three plan to buy one, according the 2018 PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey.2 With this tremendous growth in devices, consumers will need faster and more reliable connectivity to keep everything running smoothly at home.

At COMPUTEX 2018, Intel will highlight our latest technologies and reference designs, engineered to help the industry create a new class of connectivity solutions and smart home devices — ones that consumers will want to invite into their homes.

1. Deliver Wi-Fi that rises to meet new challenges
As they connect more PCs, smart speakers, gaming systems, IoT devices, security systems and mobile devices to their home networks, consumers expect their service to remain just as fast, seamless and reliable as it was before — if not even faster. The new IEEE 802.11ax standard for Wi-Fi is designed to meet these increasing demands in dense networks. Compared with its predecessor, 802.11ax is expected to significantly improve peak data rates, throughput per user and network efficiency (see Figure 1).

To accelerate the rollout of this new technology, Intel is now sampling 802.11ax chipsets based on Draft 2.0 of the standard for mainstream 2+2 and 4×4 home routers and gateways. We expect to be the first company to deliver a single-chip Wi-Fi solution for 2+2 routers.

Most notably, our new chipsets are designed for both fast and consistent connectivity. They enable support for Gigabit Wi-Fi and are optimized for clients with Intel’s Wi-Fi technology, making it possible to connect, stream, share and download faster. They also support up to 256 connected clients simultaneously and deliver enhanced throughput rates for a range of applications and workloads that access the home network, from virtual reality experiences and video calls to smart home appliances.

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Figure 1. 802.11ax includes a full feature set to deliver better performance in dense home networks.

2. Give Ethernet a huge boost
Ethernet can give home connectivity an incredible boost for uses that demand exceptional performance — like online gaming. Intel is pushing Ethernet to new speeds with the addition of 2.5GbE to our Ethernet PHY portfolio. We are now sampling our low-power, cost-effective 2.5GbE PHYs for home gateways, which are optimized for our 2.5GbE solutions for PCs and provide great interoperability for the new IEEE 802.3bz standard. With connectivity speeds that are more than double what today’s 1G hardware can deliver, our new solution offers an excellent way to future-proof routers as well as switches and other edge devices.

3. Do more with smart speakers
Smart speakers are one of the fastest-growing segments in the consumer market. Full shipments hit 32 million units globally in 2017, a 300 percent growth year over year, according to Strategy Analytics.3 But the market is far from crowded. Given that consumers have clearly shown interest in this new product category, now may be the best time to take smart speakers to the next level.

Intel is making it easier for consumer electronics companies to add their own unique value-add to smart speakers by streamlining the more basic parts of development. At COMPUTEX, we’ll debut a set of hardware offerings that make it faster and easier to build voice-enabled devices, from basic smart speakers to high-end multimodal home devices with displays, cameras, touchscreens and embedded AI.

Our two new reference designs for voice assistants will take much of the guesswork out of product design, freeing up teams to develop their own differentiating features. These reference designs pair Intel’s dual digital signal processor (DSP) with inference engine with an MPU running Linux 4.4 for midrange smart speakers or an MCU running FreeRTOS for low-cost smart speakers.

The Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit lets developers work with the qualified Amazon Alexa Voice Service audio front end and is based on our dual DSP with inference engine. The kit is now available with a commercial-grade Intel Atom SoC, ideal for developers who want to explore additional design features, like displays and cameras, that require greater performance.

This complete range of solutions from Intel allows developers to choose between different feature sets and price points, enabling a broad and exciting range of devices for the market.

Faster time to the smart home
By providing the essential technology building blocks and support needed to create a new class of smart and connected home solutions, Intel is making it faster and easier for the industry to deliver the home of the future. As for consumers, they’ll enjoy a new era of technology that provides smooth connectivity and enriches daily life.

1 “Smart Home Revenues to Reach $100 Billion by 2020, Driven by Automation and Entertainment Services,” Juniper Research, 2015.
2Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018 PwC.
3 ”Full year shipments (of smart speakers) hit 32 million units, up over 300% year-on-year,” Strategy Analytics, February 2018.

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