Cypress Semiconductor Corporation unveiled its new CYW43012 connectivity chip solution in the Bay Area last week. The solution delivers both low power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for consumer IoT devices such as wearables and smart home products – the company claims the technology can cut the receive and sleep mode power consumptions by up to 70% and 80% percent, respectively.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi remain the backbone of wearable connectivity
With the Apple Watch Series 3 unveiling earlier this month, cellular connectivity has been the new hot topic in wearables discussions. While the device does provide a solution for users wanting a connected experience without a smartphone, the connectivity has a significant impact on battery life. The capability, therefore, will not be essential for a complete product until the technology catches up sufficiently to provide a long-lasting, fully cellular user experience.
On the other hand, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, which Cypress’ solution seeks to optimize, will remain a necessity in the wearables space for basic device functionality. The need to recharge wearable devices every day after continued full-feature use has been a deterrent for consistent wearable replacement from the early days of the industry. Consumers continually need to deal with choosing between passive wearable use (e.g. step-counting) for longer life or a full-feature experience (e.g. music) with a drastically lower battery life. The company mentions that the solution will offer a 3x longer battery life on average via greater Wi-Fi and Bluetooth efficiency – an advancement that will lead to drastic improvements in user experience.
Cypress’ solution, due for production starting 4Q17, also allows for the processing of dual-band 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi and dual-mode Bluetooth/Bluetooth Low Energy applications at the same time. This is significant mainly because, per Ovum’s Wearable Devices Tracker: 2Q17, Wi-Fi capability is currently only available on 13.5% of Bluetooth connected wearables. Furthermore, the solution is supported on Cypress’ WICED Studio IoT software development platform for wireless technology integration.
Smartwatch abandonment is often caused by first-time consumers tired of recharging their devices as frequently as their smartphones – especially when the non-smart watches didn’t necessitate nearly as much attention. If successful, Cypress’ CYW43012 chip solution will help remedy this issue.
Wearable Devices Tracker: 2Q17, TE0004-001186 (July 2017)
“It's time to join up, change direction, or jump ship in the wearables market,” TE0004-001187 (August 2017)
Rishi Kaul, Research Analyst, Consumer Technology