The Internet of Things: Smarter Homes and Better Health Powered by Wireless Technologies

When the Internet was young, static Web pages were viewed on a desktop computer, via a dial-up modem connection. Today, the Internet is so much more. It’s Google and Facebook, watching videos on YouTube and streaming music over Pandora. It’s laptop computers, tablet PCs and smartphones and connectivity that’s always there – either via always-on Wi-Fi at home or mobile broadband connections standard in many mobile devices.

And yet, the real power of the Internet has yet to be realized.

Through Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technologies, the power of the Internet is heading for devices that we currently don’t have connected to the Internet. But someday soon, we’ll wonder how we programmed our home thermostats without it. This concept is called the “Internet of Things” and it goes beyond today’s Internet-powered devices and provides a variety of other uses that could improve everything from home efficiency to health care.

A Smarter, More Energy-Efficient Home

a phone showing a washing machine controlling appImagine being able to use a smartphone at the end of the workday to turn on the porch light at home or adjust the thermostat so it’s nice and cool – or toasty – when you get there. Imagine getting a text message when the washing machine cycle is finished or an email from your refrigerator telling you that the light bulb is out – along with a link so you can order a replacement and have it delivered.

Broadcom’s Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED™) technology enables wireless connectivity in home control systems like thermostats and appliances, potentially anything that can be turned on and off.  WICED – pronounced “wik-id” – eases development effort and simplifies the implementation of Wi-Fi connectivity in a number of consumer devices, particularly those that have no existing networking support.

The integration of Wi-Fi-based connectivity with WICED will not only help a household run more conveniently and smoothly, but also take the guess work out of monitoring energy usage. Consumers will be able to optimize energy usage, as well as their monthly utility bills, and make smarter decisions regarding maintenance, a perk that could reduce the need for costly repairs later.

Once home appliances and controls are connected to the Internet via a TCP/IP wireless network, consumers will enjoy convenience and control at their fingertips within the home through a secure broadband gateway. Home electronics will also be accessible on the go from smartphones and tablets.

The New Frontier for Healthcare

If this technology is powerful enough to monitor the water usage of a washing machine, could it also monitor something that could save a life, such as a person’s blood pressure, glucose levels or heart rate?

Devices with Broadcom connectivity have the potential to revolutionize health care, paving the way for enhanced preventative care and better monitoring of patients who require regular treatment. Imagine if a wireless blood pressure monitor or insulin tracker enabled patients to self-test and wirelessly send the results to their doctors, who would get an alert if those readings were unusually high.

Likewise, Broadcom’s BLE technology could be used in hospitals, medical clinics and homes to monitor and control treatments, sterilization systems and other medical devices. BLE is a simplified implementation of the Bluetooth standard targeted for sensors and other single function applications. Battery-operated BLE sensors can track a person’s heart rate and use a smartphone connection to report back to a care provider to manage medication or fitness regimes.

The integration of Broadcom Wi-Fi and BLE technology has the potential to change the way we live – both literally, in terms of our physical health, and figuratively, in terms of our lifestyles. The Internet has come a long way from its days of serving just Web pages and databases. Today, it’s an integral part of our lives – from sending email and playing video games to posting on social sites and listening to streaming music.

Everyday, Broadcom is innovating with these concepts – and more – in mind. The Internet of tomorrow will thrive off of robust networks and devices, all of which rely on robust components that are engineered and developed by innovative companies like Broadcom.

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About the Author

Public relations manager focused on wireless and mobile technologies at Broadcom.

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