Qualcomm Expands Reach of Its IoT Platforms

The company is releasing a development kit and bringing in channel partners to get its QCA4002/4004 platforms to developers.

Internet of things

Qualcomm officials want to make it easier for hardware and software developers to access the company's low-power wireless platforms and build devices and applications for the Internet of things.

The company’s Qualcomm Atheros subsidiary in September 2013 launched the QCA4002 and QCA4004 networking chips that are armed with the necessary IP stack, processor, memory and networking services for essentially adding WiFi capabilities to any product, enabling them to connect to the Internet and become part of the growing Internet of things (IoT).

According to Qualcomm Atheros officials, customers also can use the QCA4004 to not only WiFi-enable devices and systems, but also write software on the platform. The chips are aimed at such applications as home appliances—such as air conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines—consumer electronics, and sensors for such systems as residential lighting and security.

Now the company is looking to entice developers to use the platform. Officials on Sept. 4 at the IFA 2014 show in Berlin, Germany, announced a development kit that includes such features as support for the AllSeen Alliance's AllJoyn open-source code for enabling greater connectivity among connected devices and systems, and cloud connect services enabled via 2lemetry's ThingFabric IoT platform.

The company also has entered into distribution deals with channel players Arrow Electronics and CODICO GmbH to give hardware and software makers new avenues for getting access to the technology.

"We're … bringing these products broadly to the market," Ed Pawlak, senior manager of product management for Qualcomm Atheros, told eWEEK.

The IoT is expected to grow rapidly as more devices connect to the Internet and each other, creating a market that IDC analysts expect to hit $7.1 trillion by 2020. Cisco Systems officials expect that by the end of the decade, there will be more than 50 billion connected devices worldwide. System and component makers are moving quickly to carve out space in the burgeoning market.

Qualcomm was aggressive in getting the QCA4002 and 4004 chips into the market, and now is looking to grow their presence among developers that in the past may not have had many dealings with the company.

"We really need to reach customers where they are making all these devices," he said, comparing the IoT space with the mobile market in which Qualcomm is a significant player. "It's a broad market. It's not as narrow as the cellular market."

The new development kit is designed to give the developers the tools needed to make systems and applications that are ready for the Internet of things. The AllSeen Alliance is a consortium of 64 tech vendors, system makers and software developers that is working on creating a common and open IoT framework based on the AllJoyn code, which originally was developed by Qualcomm engineers.

With AllJoyn, products can more easily discover, connect and communicate with each other. The development kit includes native support for AllJoyn. There also is a hosted mode for designs that combine the QCA4002 or 4004 platforms with a microcontroller from Freescale, as well as cloud connect services through 2lementry's ThingFabric platform that brings greater security to the communications between the device and the cloud via support for secure socket layer (SSL) technology.

The kit also will include the Wi-Fi Direct specification for peer-to-peer connectivity, and Green Transmit (Green Tx), which can dynamically change the output power based on the distance from the device to the access point, Pawlak said.

The channel partners will be key players in getting the Qualcomm technology into the hands of developers, he said. Arrow Electronics will work with developers in North America and China, while CODICO GmbH will server those in Europe.