Sigma Designs offers connected ‘internet of things’

Chipset manufacturer Sigma Designs is using TV Connect to demonstrate the possibility of employing gateway devices and wireless networks to control a range of devices in the home, opening the way for service providers and device manufacturers to add value to their offerings by providing services such as home monitoring and security and home energy monitoring and control.

Sigma Designs is using the show to highlight the latest iteration of its established Z-Wave technology, which is already found in a wide variety of home devices. “The key demo that we have is Z-Wave Next Gen. Z-Wave has been around for the home control market for 10 years, allowing home energy systems and so forth to talk via a wireless network,” said Raoul Wijgergangs, vice-president of market development for Z-Wave at Sigma Designs. “There are about 700 devices with the technology inside and they are interoperable, so there is a strong ecosystem out there of devices.”

Wijgergangs said Sigma Designs was seeing “a big upswell for ‘the internet of things’ with an interest in controlling and managing things over the internet”, meaning a broadening of the range of home devices that are connected to the internet. Z-Wave Next Gen is designed, he said, to take Sigma Designs’ ecosystem of 700 Z-Wave-enabled devices and some new pieces of technology to create “the internet of 700 things”.

Consumers with Z-Wave devices bought through retail or service providers such as home security providers or telecom operators will in theory be able to control these devices via a new combined gateway-and-cloud architecture.

“Z-Wave Next Gen is an attractive gateway proposition as well as building blocks of software that allow you to control things through TVs, smartphones, tablets or computers,” said Wijgergangs. Companies including thermostat and lighting manufacturers with Z-Wave enabled devices can adopt Sigma Designs’ reference design for a low-cost gateway that will allow them to provide consumers with a way of controlling their products via smartphones or TVs. The Z-Wave Next Gen ecosystem includes apps that can run on smart devices, a reference design for a low-cost gateway and the cloud system that supports it.

“We are a tech company so we are not hosting the service but we are building the system and demonstrating it,” said Wijgergangs. He said that Sigma Designs had created universal software building blocks that will enable existing gateway device manufacturers to incorporate the platform in their own designs. However, other consumer device manufacturers were interested in a low cost plug-and-play gateway, for which Sigma had created a reference design, he said. “The reference design is relevant for certain market segments but we have also created a small embedded module that can be placed into a gateway,” he said.

Wijgergangs said TV manufacturers, among others, could add the Z-Wave software app to their TVs and upsell those with the low-cost Ethernet gateway. “You could then provide services through the TV or set-top such as home monitoring or care for the elderly,” he said.