Wi-Fi and IoT applications to drive wireless IC shipments

February 02, 2017 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Rapid growth in Wi-Fi traffic, new uses cases, and emerging IoT applications will result in a nearly 54% increase in wireless IC shipments by 2020, according to ABI Research.

The market research firm contends that the short-range wireless connectivity market technologies—including ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and NFC—will continue to evolve to meet new market demands, as evident with various new and upcoming enhancements. These include Bluetooth 5 and Bluetooth Mesh, the ZigBee Alliance’s reveal of dotdot language for the IoT, W-iFi HaLow (802.11ah), WiGig (802.11ad), new Z-Wave security enhancements, and the growth of ICs that combine several of these connectivity solutions.

“The proliferation of multi-protocol ICs and devices will allow for much simpler product creations and quicker times to market regardless of the deployed technology,” says Andrew Zignani, Industry Analyst at ABI Research. “A prime example is Qorvo’s recent GP695 SoC product announcement that integrates multiple communication protocols, including IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The technology collaboration reduces complexity for IoT device designers by enabling them to take advantage of a single SKU development platform.”

Specifically, Bluetooth 5 speed enhancements will benefit wearables and other handheld devices that will sport quicker performance times, quicker data transfers and syncing, and faster firmware updates, all while keeping power consumption down. The higher speeds will also lead to improvements in future wireless audio applications. Mesh, which Bluetooth SIG remains set to standardize in 2017, will become increasingly vital to the support, creation, and enhancement of use cases that include smart lighting control, building automation, and condition monitoring. Mesh will help enable Bluetooth to compete in areas in which other technologies previously held the competitive advantage.