At the heart of the IoT lie things, or devices, which require reliable wireless communication to the internet through a gateway (e.g. router) in a home, building or industrial plant. Most applications demand that IoT devices provide the range of WiFi, so as to be installed in or alongside existing wireless infrastructure. As with WiFi, they must also be standards-based and achieve the economies of scale by addressing a global market.
However, existing IoT technology is failing to meet this market need in the global 2.4GHz frequency band. According to the UK Government Smart Meter Survey (Ofcom 2015, p44), 2.4GHz IoT radios can only provide reliable wireless coverage in38% of UK homes. Thus, a large and growing unmet market need exists for a cost-effective IoT radio that can provide reliable whole-house wireless coverage.
There are only two possible ways to increase the range of radio devices at a given frequency, either:
1) Increase the radio’s transmit power (as with WiFi – shout louder), or
2) Improve the radio’s receiver sensitivity (listen harder).
However, legislation in Europe restricts transmit power of IoT devices to just 10mW (as opposed to 100mW for WiFi), meaning the only possible way to increase range is to improve receiver sensitivity. In forty years of digital radio communications history, no new type of radio has been invented to improve receiver sensitivity.
Cascoda, a highly innovative SME, has developed SMARTRange specifically to solve this problem. SMARTRange is a wireless transceiver architecture based on a new type of radio demodulator. This novel, patent-protected architecture drastically improves receiver efficiency, thereby doubling the range over the existing state-of-the-art, while maintaining ultra-low power consumption.
Cascoda’s technology therefore:
1) Provides range and reliability in excess of WiFi, and double that of the current state-of-the art.
2) Achieves ultra-low power consumption, to allow years of operation from inexpensive batteries.
3) Reduces the number of hops in a typical industrial network by 50%, significantly improving latency and throughput, which results in excellent Quality of Service (QoS).
Limitations of existing IoT devices:
Radio devices need to both transmit and receive radio signals, and are known as radio transceivers. IoT wireless protocols have strict limits in terms of transmitted power (typically 10mW as opposed to 100mW for WiFi), such as ETSI EN 300 328 in the European Union.
Hence, for the first time, a low-power wireless protocol has caused transceivers to consume more power whilst receiving than transmitting, with the result that existing low-power radio transceivers have very limited range. This is the key technical factor limiting adoption of IoT technology in markets such as the European Union where such transmit power limits exit. Therefore, improved receiver sensitivity is the key to Cascoda’s approach, as this is where architectural decisions have the greatest impact on range and power consumption.
A more sensitive receiver is one which is able to recover data reliably from a weaker received signal. Sensitivity is limited by two significant factors. The first of these is the noise generated in the receiver circuits. The other is the amount of noise that can be tolerated when recovering data from the received signal in a circuit known as a demodulator. By reducing the generated noise in the receiver and/or improving the noise tolerance of the demodulator, a transceiver will consume less power whilst still providing a reliable data link.
Existing receiver topologies use one of two demodulation schemes, coherent or non-coherent. Coherent schemes deliver excellent noise tolerance, at the expense of high power consumption. Non-coherent schemes, however, trade poor noise tolerance in return for low power consumption. Both coherent and non-coherent schemes therefore demonstrate certain significant disadvantages due to fundamental limits of the receiver demodulation scheme.
In over forty years of digital radio communications history, no new type of radio demodulator has been invented, resulting in very poor radio receiver sensitivity and therefore limited range.
Cascoda has invented a new type of mathematical transform, known as double-correlation, which is semi-coherent in nature and therefore does not suffer from this enforced trade-off, offering excellent sensitivity and low power consumption. Cascoda’s CA-821X product line proves that this demodulator scheme delivers performance close to the theoretical limit of noise tolerance, but for far less power than coherent schemes, and with far higher sensitivity than non-coherent schemes.
Cascoda enters a high-growth, high-volume, global market. Independent market research from ON World estimates the total market size for IEEE 802.15.4 radio chipsets to reach almost US$3 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 23%. The market is divided by market segments, namely smart homes, smart buildings, industrial applications, health & fitness, energy/metering and media centres. In particular, our key market segments are Smart Homes, Smart Buildings and Industrial Applications. Cascoda’s technology has the potential to disrupt these markets by delivering the combined benefits of long range, secure, reliable, low power and cost-effective IP-based IoT connectivity through a single and simple solution. As explained above, these benefits will help to reduce the equipment cost, installation cost and maintenance cost whilst enabling smart energy systems to improve the efficiency of high energy-consuming assets.
We have estimated the serviceable available market to be 170 million units in 2018, rising to around 777 million units in 2023 based on ON World’s latest market data. This equates to a market size of approximately US$2 billion by 2023. In 2023, the smart home market will represent the largest vertical with 40% of revenues (US$1.1 billion) and a CAGR of 45%.
The increasing availability of smart home hubs such as Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Nest and Samsung’s SmartThings are fuelling the growth of home automation technologies. Indeed, the third generation Nest thermostat sold three times more than previous generations.
Our projected market shares, based on conservative financial estimations, shown that by 2023, we expect to secure an 8% market share of the total serviceable market by selling approximately 65.6 million units.
Ofcom 2015. Spectrum Engineering Services. [Online]. [15 March 2019]. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/486058/Ofcom_Smart_Meter_HAN_868MHz_RF_Coverage_Campaign.pdf (pp44)
You can find out more here