Market Insight

ZigBee Set-Top Box Could Become the Centre Piece of the Automated Home

August 01, 2013  | Subscribers Only

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Contributed by Phillip Maddocks, Analyst of Low-Bandwidth and Smart Networks for IHS Electronics and Media

ZigBee RF4CE has already gained significant adoption in the set-top box space, incorporated by a number of companies as an IR replacement technology. Replacing IR with RF can enable advanced remote control functionality, such as gesture, motion, and touch control, as well as removing  line-of-sight limitations. However, there is now a growing interest in the inclusion of ZigBee PRO (mainly the Home Automation profile) in order to position the set-top box as the gateway for a range of new interactive services, such as home control.

A number of ZigBee RF4CE IC suppliers, such as GreenPeak and Texas Instruments, have announced the availability of multi-protocol system on chip (SoC) solutions which are capable of supporting two separate ZigBee profiles, such as ZigBee RF4CE and ZigBee Home Automation, due to the inclusion of additional memory and a more powerful microprocessor such as the  ARM Cortex M3.

Integrating one of these new SoCs within a set-top box can allow communication with both the ZigBee RF4CE remote control, along with ZigBee Home Automation devices, positioning the set-top box as a key player in the emerging ‘smart home’ ecosystem. As service provides seek new ways to create additional revenue streams and differentiate themselves from their competition, the addition of home automation services is expected to become increasingly common.

With the set-top box fighting to win dominancy as the centrepiece of the connected home, which manufacturers and service providers are backing ZigBee technology? What proportion will integrate multi-protocol ZigBee SoCs in the future, and how will adoption vary geographically?

For more information, please see IHS' recent study, “Low-Power Wireless in Computing & Home Entertainment”.

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