Qualcomm Atheros has jumped onto the Internet of Things bandwagon with a new chipset, the AR4100P, intended to give your washing machine, lighting and just about anything else a direct line to the web. Adding WiFi 802.11n to the existing AR4100, the new chipset has its own IPv4/IPv6 TCP/IP stack and promises a straightforward and affordable route for manufacturers to get their hardware hooked up to a smart home system.
If you've been living under a rock of late, you may have missed the Internet of Things concept. In short, it's an attempt to use mesh-networking and other technologies to interconnect devices that traditionally would be standalone. So, your washer, dryer, fridge, HVAC and other systems can all talk to the electricity meter and figure out the most affordable times to turn on, while your iPad can become the remote control hub managing them all.
Qualcomm Atheros calls its line-up of products for the segment its "Internet of Everything portfolio" and expects it to find buyers among smart energy providers, those creating products for the "intelligent home", in security and building automation, for remote health and wellness monitoring, and more. The AR4100P will show up in the company's SP137 development kit, paired with Energy Micro's EFM32 Gecko low-energy Cortex-M3 microcontroller (running Micrium uC/OS-III) and deep sleep modes of only 2uA, meaning it can be run off AA batteries.
Although a healthy buzzword, we're yet to see the Internet of Things conclusively break into the mainstream, though wireless power meters are a starting point. Still, as more manufacturers pick up chips like the AR4100P and bake them - even if currently latent - into their ranges, there may well come a time when our home appliances will wake up and start talking about us behind our backs.