Chip giant Broadcom has launched a new WiFi chip module for manufacturers to use to add connectivity to devices, appliances, energy management gadgets and other things that less commonly have Internet connections. The WiFi module, which the company is calling Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED), contains a processor, a WiFi radio, a connectivity API, and a software stack.
Broadcom’s move is an effort to use WiFi to tap into the “Internet of Things,” movement, where every device will one day be able to talk to each other, beyond just computers and cell phones — think everything from your car, to sensors throughout your home and office, to your electricity meter, and even down to tiny objects like the cap of your prescription pills, which could text you and tell you “hey, it’s time to take me now.”
However, not everyone thinks WiFi will be the dominate wireless networking technology that will provide the wireless layer for this Internet of things. Energy companies, smart meter makers and appliance makers are largely going with Zigbee, or even Z-Wave, because of low power needs. Though, no doubt WiFi will play a large role, particularly for devices in the home that will run over the home wireless connection.
A good portion of the Internet of things will involve energy-related products. Appliances, like dishwashers, microwaves, and water heaters, could use connections to be a lot more energy efficient, and connect with utilities to better manage the grid. Most homes in the U.S. will eventually get connected smart meters installed, acting as a two-way gateway for homes and utilities. Many of the appliance makers are waiting for standards to mature that will dictate what type of connectivity they need to embed in their goods.
Image is of GE’s connected fridge.