Low Power = High Growth
A whole host of new and emerging markets are set to drive longer term growth in wireless connectivity technologies. Applications, including home automation systems, sports, medical, retail, and more, are driving the need for low power wireless technologies to enable remote devices with minimal maintenance. Over 1.5 billion ZigBee and Bluetooth Smart (v4.0) devices are expected to ship per annum in 2016. "Wireless sensors are enabling a wide range of new and exciting products," says Peter Cooney, practice director, semiconductors. "Low power is all important, allowing minimal maintenance and therefore low running cost."
ZigBee and Bluetooth v4.0 are expected to be the 2 major technologies used, but continued development is needed to reduce power consumption further, with the ultimate aim of achieving batteryless sensors where possible. The recent release of an open standard from EnOcean will help with the uptake of more sensors powered by energy harvesting, but what is needed is a more widespread push from a fully open standard body, such as the Bluetooth SIG or ZigBee Alliance. "We expect further announcements from the Bluetooth SIG on lower power solutions, pushing v4.0 to new power levels," adds Cooney. "This coincides with work being done by the ZigBee Alliance on the ZigBee Green Power standard, a technology that has been in the pipeline since 2009."
There will be competition amongst wireless connectivity technologies in some emerging markets as OEMs evaluate the best solution, however in the longer term each technology will have success based on its strengths, e.g. Bluetooth will gain more traction in point to point applications, while ZigBee will be more successful in networks with multiple nodes. Further competition will come from proprietary solutions and technologies such as EnOcean.