Broadcom officials are continuing to build out the company's platform for the Internet of things, adding a chip that includes dual-band WiFi capabilities and integrating NFC technology into its software development kit.
The moves add to the offerings in Broadcom's Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) platform for the Internet of things (IoT) and wearable devices, which the company unveiled a year ago. Since then, Broadcom has steadily added to the portfolio, from the $20 software development kit (SDK) to a security-focused system-on-a-chip (SoC) that includes Bluetooth and encryption and decryption capabilities.
The dual-band WiFi SoC and the near-field communications (NFC) support are the latest additions to the WICED (pronounced "wicked") platform, which are designed to help device makers reduce the costs of their products and simplify the integration of NFC into devices in such areas as home, medical, retail and enterprise.
At an event Dec. 4 in San Francisco, Broadcom is showing off the various parts of the low-power WICED platform in a preview of sorts of what the company will talk about at the upcoming 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which kicks off Jan. 6 in Las Vegas. While CES is known as a launching pad for a broad array of consumer devices, from smartphones to new television technology to driverless cars, Broadcom officials instead are going another direction, Sarah Murry, a Web editor at Broadcom, wrote in a post on the company blog.
"Broadcom's connectivity experts know that the next trend won't be around 'the next big thing' but instead, around lots of little 'things' connected via apps to smartphones and the Internet," Murry wrote. "Called the 'Internet of Things,' the growth of these wirelessly connected devices is set to explode in the next five years."
The IoT is made up of an increasing number of intelligent devices and systems—from jewelry and smartwatches to notebooks and tablets to cars, homes appliances and industrial systems—that are connected to the Internet and each other and are generating massive amounts of data. Cisco Systems officials say there are about 25 billion connected devices now, and that number will double by 2020.
Given the number of devices and money involved—Cisco CEO John Chambers has said the IoT will be worth as much as $19 trillion to businesses worldwide by the end of the decade, and IDC analysts said revenues for IoT solutions could reach $7.1 trillion—tech vendors are moving aggressively to get traction in the market.
For Broadcom, the WICED platform is the key focus in the area. According to the company, the new BCM43907 SoC with the dual-band WiFi capabilities will bring high-definition audio streaming over WiFi networks by reducing interference and interruptions and increasing performance in such devices as portable speakers, sound bars and media players. The SoC also brings advanced radio frequency and timing synchronization, which enables the same sound to be streamed over multiple speakers in different locations from the same device.
"The significant improvement in sound quality of HD audio streaming over WiFi versus proprietary short- range technologies is creating opportunities for a wide variety of new wireless streaming devices," Brian Bedrosian, senior director of product marketing for wireless connectivity combos for Broadcom, said in a statement.
The features in the BCM43907 include support for Apple's AirPlay technology for streaming from devices running iOS, extended 802.11n WiFi connectivity to speakers, and integration of the WICED Audio SDK. The ARM-based SoC is sampling now with select customers.
The NFC integration into the WICED SDK will make it easier for device users to create links between mobile and smart devices through the feature's tap-to-activate and tap-to-control capabilities. For developers, the integration enables them to create more complex products, Broadcom officials said.
The WICED SDK with NFC can be downloaded immediately.