Top 10 IoT Specific Trends from CES 2020: The Smart Home Becomes The Intelligent Home

Undoubtedly the world’s largest consumer electronics show, CES is a great indicator of where the IoT market is heading and what we can expect to see in the coming 2-3 years. Out of about 4500 exhibitors at CES 2020, more than 1000 companies were “internet of things” related, including smart home and city solution providers, wearables vendors, sensors, biometrics, and vehicle automation firms. The DSR team attended the show, and we are excited to share some of our impressions.

1. IoT Will Stand For “Intelligence of Things”

ICON.AI Venus Mirror
Venus Mirror by ICON.AI

The IoT universe is constantly expanding and new types of devices are connecting to the internet. At CES 2020, a smart frying pan was announced. SmartyPans are equipped with weight and temperature sensors and can record recipes as you cook (https://smartypans.io/). An Interactive smart makeup mirror, ICON.AI, is able to diagnose skin diseases, helps to choose makeup, and supports Amazon Alexa (http://icon.ai/). However, the most intelligent device for smart home ecosystem was presented by Samsung. It’s called Ballie and is described as a “life companion”, not just ordinary smart assistant (see video below).

A Rolling ball-shaped robot, unlike Apple’s Siri or the Amazon Echo, doesn’t wait for a voice command, instead, it constantly monitors your actions, behavior, and activities. Ballie is proactive. For example, it can wait and take a photo when the lightning is favorable, or give a command to the smart vacuum cleaner to clean up the dog’s mess without bothering its owner.

Google Assistant now supports a wider range of compatible smart devices and gives an option to turn them on and off on a timer. You can say: “Hey Google, run the coffee machine at 7 a.m.” Moreover, you can now connect compatible smart devices with just a few taps as well as use smart digital sticky notes across smart displays. Google also has enhanced the translation capabilities of Assistant. Now the AI-driven voice assistant is able to translate text from more than 40 languages.

Plume demonstrated a motion detection system which operates without sensors and cameras (https://www.plume.com/). Plume Motion AI analyzes Wi-Fi signal delays between compatible OpenSync nodes and Wi-Fi connected devices to identify moving objects. This AI also helps to eliminate the problem of false home alarms, such as the detection of pets.

Prima Touch from Hogar Controls
Prima Touch from Hogar Controls

As demonstrated at CES 2020, multi-functional smart switches and displays are going to be one of the top home automation market trends, in the coming years. One Example is the Prima Touch Switch from Hogar Controls(https://www.hogarcontrols.com/). Prima Touch allows the user to configure a set of touch-sensitive buttons to control different smart devices and switch between predefined scenes. It supports Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols. More advanced smart displays are able to stream video, help to monitor household energy consumption, and quickly adjust smart home settings for the current occupants’ needs.

CES 2020 has demonstrated that the smart home ecosystem and smart devices themselves are becoming more intelligent. Increased connectivity, along with AI-driven solutions, allow the smart home ecosystem to provide much more utility, without the user’s direct involvement.

2. Power Shift Towards Interoperability

According to Statista estimates (https://www.statista.com/statistics/471264/iot-number-of-connected-devices-worldwide/), there are more than 26 billion connected IoT devices. With this vast quantity, comes complexity. Each IoT solution offers its own IoT infrastructure, APIs, and data formats, which leads to interoperability issues. Several initiatives aimed at enhancing interoperability were announces at CES 2020.

Lots of manufacturers’ smart devices are compatible with the OCF 2.1 standard (https://openconnectivity.org/developer/specifications/). The new version of the standard was released in November by the Open Connectivity Foundation, which boasts more than 300 members (Cisco, LG, Samsung, Intel etc.). OCF 2.1 provides detailed implementations for Bluetooth, EnOcean, Zigbee, and Z-Wave.

In December, Apple, Google, Amazon, the and Zigbee Alliance announced the creation of Connected Home over IP(https://www.connectedhomeip.com/). The goal is to create a working group for the development of a new open standard for smart home products, with a heavy focus on security.

Moreover, just over a month ago, Silicon Labs and the Z-Wave Alliance announced plans to open proprietary Z-Wave standard (https://z-wavealliance.org/z-wave-specification-press-release/). Before the announcement, Silicon Labs was the only manufacturer of MCUs with Z-Wave support. In the near future, other manufacturers will be able to produce Z-Wave chips. This is the first step to make the standard fully open.

DSR Corporation also contributed to this shift, as we announced the ZBOSS Open Initiative (ZOI) at CES 2020 (http://dsr-zoi.com/). This is a community of companies with a shared understanding of the necessity to have a common Zigbee PRO software platform to overcome, together, the shared challenges around interoperability, security, testing, and optimization of Zigbee-enabled products and solutions.

3. Wi-Fi 6 to boost smart home

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) will increase the throughput and speed of IoT networks, decrease delays, and make smart homes more secured. Thanks to the support of OFDMA и BSS Coloring technologies, smart home and office solutions based on Wi-Fi 6 will manage network traffic more efficiently, especially in a radio dense environment.

WPA3 will significantly improve the security of IoT networks in comparison to WPA2 thanks to the Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) protocol, which is used in Wi-Fi 6, instead of Pre-Shared Keys (PSK). The new standard will make IoT networks a lot harder to hack.

What’s more, Wi-Fi 6 routers support up to 1024 connected devices simultaneously, whereas current Wi-Fi generation is able to support only 250. This is a great step forward for smart home and office automation, hence just one Wi-Fi 6 enabled router will be able to manage more than thousand smart devices.

D-Link COVR X1872
Two-piece router D-Link COVR X1872 supports Wi-Fi 6 and enables to setup mesh IoT networks

Quite a number of manufacturers announced routers with Wi-Fi 6 support, including D-Link, TP-Link, Linksys, and Netgear. Comcast also revealed the xFi Advanced, an IEEE 802.11ax certified gateway.

4. 5G – the first generation of cellular networks for IoT

According to an Ericsson forecast (https://www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report/internet-of-things-forecast), over 1.5 billion IoT devices will be connected to cellular networks by 2022. 5G is the first generation of mobile networks designed with IoT industry requirements in mind. Apart from a tenfold speed increase (up to 15-20 Gbit/s) in comparison to 4G, 5G supports 250 times more connected devices — over 1 million devices per 1 square kilometer. The capacity of 4G is limited to a mere 4,000 devices per square kilometer. CTA forecasts that more than 50 mobile network operators throughout the world will launch 5G in 2020 (https://cta.tech/).

Connected devices (billions). Source: https://www.ericsson.com/
Connected devices (billions). Source: https://www.ericsson.com/

For the IoT market, the 5G network deployment means the increased use and efficiency of cloud services, significantly lower latency (down to 1 ms), and greatly increased throughput. All of these improvements will allow for the creation of a robust smart city infrastructure, an industrial IoT solution with hundreds of thousands of smart sensors and devices.

Significantly lower latency in 5G networks will allow for the control of automated vehicles and industrial machinery, remotely, from another part of the world. 5G can also can be used by farmers to oversee massive areas of land with the help of a drone fleet equipped with a variety of sensors. Drones can identify diseased plants or areas than need to be watered. It’s a great example of how 5G based IoT systems will help to solve very real-world problems.

5. Biometrics for smart home and office

blurams-doorbell
Blurams Smart Doorbell with face recognition technology

Face recognition technology is making its way into the smart market. More and more devices are capable of using face recognition for access. Blurams revealed a smart doorbell at CES (https://www.blurams.com/). The doorbell sports AI facial recognition, a 1080p camera, motion detection, and 2-way talk function including hands-free calling. Faces are identified in real-time, with all of the data stored in company’s cloud storage. Blurams’s app allows users to register up to 16 people for identification.

ADT presented a range of smart cameras (https://www.adt.com/). Sophisticated computer vision technology helps to not only identify authorized users, but also distinguish between strangers and burglars. The smart camera system will notify its owner about suspicious strangers around the house via push notifications in the app and voice messages via Amazon Alexa. Cameras are equipped with a microphone and speaker for voice communication, as well as a light sensor.

Additionally, several companies at CES 2020 revealed smart door locks equipped with fingerprint scanners.

6. Wireless Charging for Smart Devices

A few companies announced wireless chargers for smart home devices at CES 2020.

wi-charge-powerpuck-r1
Wi-Charge Powerpuck R1 wireless charger

Wi-Charge revealed the Powerpuck R1 charger with AirCord infrared beam technology (https://wi-charge.com/). It can be plugged into a wall or screwed into a lightbulb socket. The charger is able to charge compatible smart devices from a distance of up to 9 meters, covering almost 2.5 square meters. The receivers measure just 1×1 cm and can be embedded in the charged devices. R1 initiates the charging of compatible devices right after the installation without any additional configuration.

ossia-cota
Ossia’s Cota is able to charge smart devices via Wi-Fi like a radio

Unlike the Powerpuck R1, Ossia’s wireless charger, Cota, doesn’t require direct line of sight to power smart devices (https://www.ossia.com/cota/),. Cota measures 30×30 cm and transmits power via 5.8 GHz radio signal. Just like Wi-Fi, but instead of data, the chargers send power to the connected devices.

Ossia's Cota Home Transmitter
Ossia’s Cota Home Transmitter

Receivers with Cota wireless charging support can be embedded in smart speakers, thermostats, cameras, smoke detectors, and other smart devices. The charger transmits power up to 9 meters, doesn’t require direct line of sight, and is able to charge notebooks, smartphones, remote controls, and other gadgets.

The variety of wireless chargers, demonstrated at CES 2020, will help to solve one of the main smart home ecosystem problems – battery changing and power limitations. However, the solutions currently have some drawbacks, like the need to embed a specific supported receiver in the end-devices and significant power loss during transmission.

7. Enhanced Voice Control

Voice assistants are used in smart home solutions more and more often, and their advancement will allow to for more sophisticated automation scenarios and features. So far, voice control is widely adopted in English-speaking countries, but thanks to significant improvements in speech recognition they’ll be used in other countries in 2020 as well. Juniper Research predicts that more than 8 billion smart devices will support voice commands by 2023 (https://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/digital-voice-assistants-in-use-to-8-million-2023).

Kohler Numi
Kohler Numi 2.0 — an intelligent toilet with Amazon Alexa for easy voice control

Voice assistants are supported by a wide range of smart devices including fridges, toilets, shower cabins, door locks, and garage gate openers. However, the most recent trend in IoT is not only voice, but sounds recognition.
Audio Analytic, a startup at CES 2020, announced “the second generation” of audio recognition technology for smart devices based on its extensive Alexandria library (https://www.audioanalytic.com/). The library contains more than 15 million labelled sound samples. This technology enables smart devices to identify different sounds and act accordingly. For example, a security system with Alexandria support will be able to identify the sound of shattered window glass in the house and set-off the alarm to notify the owner about a possible break-in. Or, smart home will be able to “hear” child cry and notify parents, play soothing music for him or her, and turn on the lights in the corridor leading to the child’s room.
Audio Analytic’s sound recognition technology uses AI and neural network to accurately identify different sounds. It’s already supported by some smart hubs on the market, including Hive Hub 360.

8. Smart home security and privacy are in the spotlight

CES 2020 showed that in the coming years more and more efforts will be devoted to making smart home systems and IoT devices significantly more secure. The Amazon Ring cameras hack last December sounded the alarm for manufacturers and service providers to pay a lot more attention to the security flaws of current IoT solutions. The number of hackers’ attacks on smart home and office systems will only increase since they are still easy targets.

To address the issue, Comcast revealed the free app, Xfinity xFi, for it’s smart ecosystem. The app monitors and controls traffic, blocks suspicious activities and notifies the user about abnormal data sent from end devices.
Apple attended CES for the first time in 28 years to discuss users’ data privacy issues, while Google Assistant will now erase data if activated accidentally. One just needs to say “Hey Google, that wasn’t meant for you”. Moreover, users can open a new dashboard to see how the service uses recorded data, view privacy settings, and delete any record from the last 18 months.

Amazon also enabled the option to erase records for Alexa with the help of the phrases: “Alexa, delete what I just said” and “Alexa, delete everything I said today.”

9. Office Automation is the Next Big thing

2020 will be the year for wider office automation systems adoption even by mid-sized companies. The systems will help to make office workspace more comfortable, controllable, safe, and energy efficient.

Smart offices will be able to automatically adjust lightning and temperature depending on the weather outside, making the workspace not only more convenient for employees, but also less energy consuming. Smart doorbells, motion sensors, door locks, and cameras will help to identify strangers and grant employees access to the certain areas of the office.

Office automation will help to book meeting rooms more efficiently, control lighting, and manage other key routine activities.

kwikset-halo-touch
The Kwikset Halo Touch smart door lock with Wi-Fi support and fingerprints scanner (https://www.kwikset.com/halo-touch).

A great number of smart devices presented at CES 2020 will be used for office automation, starting with smart touch switches, all the way to wireless chargers for smart devices.

10. AI-Driven Smart Energy

A connected smart home not only makes smart device management a breeze, but also helps to reduce energy consumption. For example, there is no need to heat the house if there’s no one present. With the help of a connected thermostat and smartphone app, the owner of the house can create optimal scenarios or leave it to an AI-powered service which analyzes user’s habits and behavior patterns and can offer the most energy-efficient temperature control scenes without any impact on comfort. Lighting and other variables can also be controlled automatically in a similar way.

The use of AI makes smart home solutions more intelligent. Moreover, the geolocation capabilities of smartphones allow, for example, for the AI to prepare a certain scenario (temp, lights, coffee, music, etc.) when the user is commuting home.

DSR Corporation is participating in Wondrwall intelligent living project(http://en.dsr-corporation.com/news?id=630). Different temperature modes have already been implemented, and in the nearest future users will be able to connect solar panels and automatically buy and sell energy for the most competitive prices.

World Ruled by Robots?

“What’s New in the World of Artificial Intelligence?” asked me Alexa….

Some people believe that artificial intelligence does not exist, while others watch Sci-Fi movies and devise survival plans for when robots rise against us. Artificial intelligence today is weak, meaning many of the tasks and operations being performed now are limited in scope, but that is continuing to change every day. The development of AI is building at a rapid pace and is poised to change how we interact with the world around us on a daily basis.

Recently, with the help of artificial intelligence, companies are beginning to solve individual niche issues.  For example, emails and responses can be automated in the workplace, reducing the need for human attention. Self-driving cars are operating independently and more safely, reducing the number of accidents on roads. Experts have even predicted that in 10 years self-driving cars will be a normal reality in the US, along with radical organizational and cost structure changes for transportation companies like taxi and bus services.

Social networks, neural networks, and learning algorithms… Russian search engine Yandex is currently conducting closed testing of a new social network using AI and neural networks. Access is only available by invitation of someone who already exists on the network. By tapping into AI and neural networks, you are able to find completely new friends solely on the information you have provided to the system. The algorithms are configured so that you see people based along your selected features. Interestingly, the development with the use of artificial intelligence began to appear in areas such as beauty, cosmetology, and health.

Other large companies continue to use artificial intelligence to help predict events. Mobile operators can analyze the behavior of subscribers in order to offer services that will help improve the user experience, while other applications of modern development are aimed at helping users make decisions.

Google, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Alice, how many virtual assistants can you remember?  There are many others, but these are some of the most popular we see today. Each of these assistants can allow you to do basic searches, analyze or processes information, but the fact remains that each assistant relates back to weak AI. Just think about how many times you’ve tried to talk humanly and gotten a response that didn’t quite seem to make any sense.

So why don’t we see strong artificial intelligence?  Well, why grow an artificial tree, if you can grow the present faster and cheaper?  Perhaps humanity doesn’t need strong AI just yet.

We are going to continue to dive deeper into this subject in our next issue. In the meantime, please remember that not all robots can be correlated with artificial intelligence. If you have a floor cleaning robot at home, this does not mean that it can study neural networks, collect or process your personal data.

Thoughts After CES 2019

CES 2019 at a Glance

Every year we make our way to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas for the annual consumer electronics exhibition. Imagine over 4,500 vendors presenting new ideas and technological developments spread across an entire week — it really does give a whole new meaning to the city of lights. CES presents a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals in similar fields, or different, helping catch new ideas, contacts, and ideas – it’s wonderful here.

The history of CES began over 52 years ago with organizers showing more progress each and every year. With the main theme being innovation and information technology, the width of coverage is vast:

  • Robotics,
  • Artificial Intelligence,
  • Three-dimensional Printing,
  • Design,
  • Drones,
  • Sport Technologies,
  • Smart Home,
  • Family & Lifestyle,
  • Virtual Reality (VR),
  • Games,
  • Unmanned Vehicles,
  • Music,
  • Entertainment & Content,
  • Cryptocurrency,
  • Internet of Things (IoT),
  • and Machine Intelligence.

 

All About IoT

The beginning of the year confirmed that IoT is coming to the mass market.  Focus has shifted from smartphones to other smart devices — and manufactures are taking notice.  Improved air quality sensors, door positions, windows, just to provide a few quick examples.  There are even smart window systems being developed that can inform the home when a window is opened wider than an indicated gap, for example.

Consumers can now choose between a wide variety of smart devices and systems, putting real pressure on manufactures and companies to advance smart home ecosystems. But the problem doesn’t just end there. Consumers need a way to connect many different smart devices to a single system – easy management.  This is where Zigbee and other wireless technologies flex their strength; gateways with multiantenna and customization service suggestions come to the rescue.

Hi Computer, Talk to Me

Voice automation control becomes more the norm than the rarity.  It falls into many devices and almost everyone has them now. People want to have a voice assistant in their home, in the office, and in the car, like Jarvis from Iron Man. Project recipes from the Internet to the kitchen door by voice request?  Yes, please!  Yet, even Alexa from Amazon or Google-assistant do not always suit as a compromising option.  Artificial intelligence is poised to grow wiser and communicate with people better and faster.  Companies that once winced at the idea of software in their products are now flocking to CES.  For example, Procter and Gamble – L’Oreal, are developing mirrors that can look at your face to determine if your skin needs support or treatment.  Maybe just a care cream?  Cameras take pictures of the users face and follow changes of the face in real time.  Maybe they’ll even notice skin cancer in due time.

It is interesting that companies that are seemingly far from “software” come into the sphere of technology.  These companies expand the development zone to such wide branches like automation for pets, children, sleep, and beauty.  There are even smart leashes and collars!  People even get interested in buying devices that can distribute pleasant smells throughout their homes.  And what if you could connect a device that could command three-dimensional TV? Cars? Batteries? Spotify on your steering wheel?  The ideas and possibilities are endless.

Robotics help businesses change their models.  It is especially gratifying that companies competing in the past are starting to cooperate.  To denote such activity, the new term ‘coopetition’ has appeared.  ‘Coopetition’ should bring even greater breakthroughs in overall development.  Teamwork gives rise to new achievements.  SDKs help bring the product to market.  Quick starts are real.

Meet & Talk

DSR had a lot of productive meetings with existing and prospective clients and it was the most successful CES to date. DSR was also a proud  sponsor of the Zigbee Alliance Social – an invitation only event that was a great opportunity to bring all of the members together in one location and celebrate Zigbee successes from 2018. During this event, Zigbee Alliance announced several of the new developments and expansions of the standard and also unveil the location of the next member meeting. The atmosphere for the event was very warm and inviting and perfect for conversations and celebration.

In Closing

Here are seven key CES 2019 takeaways that caught our attention:

  • IoT is finally an emerging mass market (and the data it gathers has lots of financial implications)
  • Amazon and Google are in “hand-to-hand combat” driving voice technology into the Smart Home and beyond
  • 5G, NB-IOT and Cat-M1 are expanding battery-powered WAN connectivity in amazing ways
  • Drones—from airborne to underwater to John Deere—are becoming platforms
  • Robotics are creating business change
  • Artificial Intelligence is getting smarter
  • “Coopetition” is happening in lots of places

IoT is moving capabilities out of smart phones and into different smart things. People want their homes, cars and offices to have a voice like Jarvis (see the Ironman movie franchise). And not everyone wants Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant as the go-between. Battery-powered WAN connectivity in a variety of speeds is making the cloud easier by “losing the gateway.” Drones and robotics platforms are giving new capabilities to businesses and consumers. Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is changing the way products and services interact with humans. And if Apple and Samsung are teaming up, is it time to evaluate how “coopetition” might help your 2019 business goals?

What is Dotdot?

What is Dotdot?

A bit of history — the creation of Zigbee standard required a lot of effort, time and knowledge to construct. Dotdot is an alias for ZCLIP, which stands for Zigbee Cluster Library (ZCL) over IP. It is about exposing ZCL functionality to the IP world, in contrast to classic Zigbee that is always isolated from IP networks and requires a Zigbee gateway to connect Zigbee mesh with the outer world. This would become a bridge between IoT and other networks. Different manufacturers have Zigbee Gateway solutions mostly for connectivity of Zigbee network with cloud.

In classic Zigbee there are all instruments for organization, self-organization, restoring and stability of the network. Above all of this sits the Cluster Library, which calls functions allowing the clusters to communicate. Although, there is one short fall with this system – it cannot get online. With ZCL exposed to IP, it becomes possible to establish a direct communication channel between Internet/Intranet application and Dotdot device when border device remains transparent for and unaffected by the details of communication. The same way communication between Dotdot devices located on different networks is also possible under condition that device services are properly advertised across network borders or devices appear bound by means of a third-party application.

New Language: Old Terms, New Sense

Dotdot is a standard that allows you to put ZCL on any “rails” other than Zigbee – WiFi, Thread, and so on.  This is an add-on for Zigbee.  An application level protocol that allows smart devices from closed networks (with addresses) to communicate more openly through the address space that is on the Internet and other networks.  It is important to not just reach the device itself, but also to address the command to a specific cluster within, and do so securely.

 

Figuratively, Dotdot receives commands in one language and translates them into a language understandable for smart devices.  This makes smart devices ecosystem more open.  Dotdot uses the Zigbee approach in ZCL and has extended it to other types of transports as well. The mesh built for some Dotdot solution deployments is not mandated to contain only Dotdot-compatible devices.

The Commissioning Application

The Dotdot commissioning application was developed next to and based on Thread that was taken from the official Thread Commissioning App mostly as is, courtesy of the Thread Group. The application allows managing the expansion process of the Dotdot network. Seamless integration of the parts and stabilization of Thread for both mobile platforms was also performed.

This application allows third-party devices to enter, which is critical for maintaining network security.  The top layer works with Dotdot enabled devices over Thread. Thread is responsible for commissioning new Thread enabled devices to the home network and discovering devices that are already there. Dotdot makes use of device lists from Thread and as a result uncovers Dotdot enabled devices and their services. The system interrogates the device, finds what services and clusters are running, on which endpoint, and which commands support the device, allowing for a complete picture of the device’s capabilities.  Once this is completed, you are able to change the attributes and send commands from the application itself.  There are clusters, attributes, bindings and reporting.

Why Should Companies Implement Dotdot?

Speed. Abstraction. Interoperability. Dotdot provides the opportunity to create applications in a more flexible way. This is because Dotdot solutions use “generic” border routers that are standard, easy replaceable even at run time, and are not a “single point of failure.” The same data model is provided for different IoT technologies, despite what protocols are used to send data (WiFi, BLE, Zigbee, Thread, and so on), this means there is a wider market for solution spread. You can create a wider IoT system where all the devices understand each other. This creates an easier entry point for companies to develop solutions and allows application developers to focus on the application and functionality, without delving into the underlying specifics of a particular wireless network.

How to Get Started

  1. Download an SDK from a company that provides the solution.
  2. Study the provided API and Zigbee clusters description. Find the needed clusters and start own device (certified by Zigbee Alliance) implementation.
  3. Gain access to the Dotdot Commissioning Application.
  4. To accelerate your development, engage a company with experience in Dotdot and wireless technologies.
  5. Lastly, consider becoming a member of the Zigbee Alliance (if you are not already) to get access to even more tools and become involved in the development of IoT standards.