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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


New Tech Tuesdays: Voice-Controlled Comfort in the Smart Home Rudy Ramos

New Tech Tuesdays

Join Rudy Ramos for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

 

The ubiquity and use of smart home gadgets have turned regular houses into places full of intelligent, interconnected devices that offer both ease and safety. This big change in how smart homes work is due to the Internet of Things (IoT), which has led to many advanced devices with different uses that make home life more convenient and secure. From home security to appliances and more, these emerging technologies are redefining what it means to be ‘home sweet home.’

Speak and Be Heard

The cornerstone of this technological renaissance is the smart speaker. Smart speakers exemplify the fusion of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) with everyday utility. These speakers, equipped with voice recognition (referred to as voice assistants), function as the central nervous system of the smart home, enabling users to command various connected gadgets through simple verbal cues. From adjusting the ambiance with smart lighting systems to regulating the indoor temperature with intelligent thermostats to tuning your smart television to your favorite channel, control rests at the tip of the tongue.

Furthermore, smart security systems have redefined household safety. Using voice commands, users can enable alarms or communicate with visitors at the front door, whether home or away. These systems, a combination of cameras, sensors, and alarms, offer real-time surveillance and alerts, ensuring peace of mind. Notably, with their analytics capabilities, they are adept at distinguishing between routine occurrences and potential threats, thereby reducing false alarms and enhancing security efficacy.

The kitchen, too, has witnessed a transformation with smart appliances (Figure 1). Refrigerators like the Samsung Family Hub™+ not only monitor for food freshness and make plenty of ice, but also feature a 32" touchscreen that lets you share pictures, stream music and videos, and access recipes, all from the fridge.[1] When you’re hustling around the kitchen with oven mitts on and need to make sure all temperatures and cooking times are correct, there are ovens that can be remotely voice-controlled for precision cooking, epitomizing the convergence of culinary art and technology.

Figure 1: Today’s smart home kitchen is equipped with appliances enhanced by IoT connectivity that put you in complete control. (Source: Koldunova/ stock.adobe.com)

Additionally, the availability of high-speed fiber internet connections and the use of Wi-Fi mesh routers are future-proofing homes and making slow connections and dead zones a thing of the past.[2] This high-speed connectivity is the lifeline of these devices and provides voice control capabilities never seen before. Relying on Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Zigbee, Thread, Matter, and sometimes proprietary protocols, they form an interconnected web, allowing for seamless interaction and data exchange.

This connectivity not only facilitates voice control but also enables these devices to learn and adapt to user preferences over time, enhancing their utility and personalization. Many of the apps that come with these smart devices further enhance the user experience by enabling remote control and tracking of the devices’ activity via smartphones and watches.

The added value of these smart home devices transcends mere convenience. With the advantages of ML, some of these smart home devices can analyze energy consumption and determine usage schedules for air conditioning and more. By optimizing energy usage, these devices contribute to a more sustainable living environment. Their ability to learn and adapt leads to a more personalized and efficient home living experience, saving time and enhancing comfort.

Featured Products

This week’s New Tech Tuesday features a connectivity evaluation kit from u-blox and a Bluetooth® module from Renesas. Both products represent the latest cutting-edge solutions for wireless connectivity applications in the IoT realm.

The u-blox EVK-NORA-B12x evaluation kits are an indispensable tool for design engineers looking to develop IoT applications. This kit provides stand-alone use of the NORA-B1 series module, which features the powerful Nordic Semiconductor nRF5340 dual-core RF System-on-Chip (SoC). It serves as an excellent starting point for a wide range of projects, including Bluetooth 5.2 Low Energy, Thread, or Zigbee applications. One of its key advantages is accessibility, allowing easy access directly from the evaluation board to all features of the NORA-B1 series modules. With a simple USB connection, engineers can power the kit, perform programming tasks, and utilize virtual COM ports. The board includes convenient features, like four user buttons, a USB peripheral connector, user LEDs, and a reset button. Additionally, it offers 48 GPIO signals (46 for EVK-NORA-B12) on headers that are compatible with the Arduino® form factor, simplifying the use of existing Arduino shields. Whether used for Bluetooth® connectivity in smart homes or other IoT applications, this evaluation kit offers a valuable toolset for developers seeking to work with the NORA-B1 module.

The Renesas DA14695MOD Multi-Core Bluetooth® 5.2 Modules are versatile solutions for wireless connectivity applications. These modules are part of the SmartBond™ DA1469x family, known for its feature-rich and powerful multi-core microcontroller units. Key features of the DA14695MOD modules include global certification, integration of all necessary passives and antennas, a 32Mbit QSPI FLASH, and user-friendly software support, making them easy to work with. Additionally, these multi-core wireless microcontroller modules feature the latest Arm® Cortex®-M33 application processor with a floating-point unit, advanced power management functionality, and a cryptographic security engine. These modules are designed to enable Bluetooth® Low Energy 5.2 and proprietary 2.4GHz protocols, making them suitable for a wide range of wireless applications, including IoT, beacons, proximity tags, low power sensors, robotics, and many more.

Tuesday’s Takeaway

Smart IoT home gadgets have revolutionized our homes, making them more connected, convenient, and secure. Key to this change is smart speakers, which use artificial intelligence to let us control our home environment with just our voice. They can adjust lights, set thermostats, and control our televisions. Smart security systems also play a significant role, using cameras and sensors to keep our homes safe and giving us peace of mind. And let us not forget our kitchens. They, too, are being transformed by smart appliances that can suggest recipes and cook food precisely at our command. Overall, these smart home devices do more than just make life easier—they also help save energy and create a more personalized and comfortable living space.

 

Sources:

[1] “Bespoke 4-Door Flex™ Refrigerator with Family Hub™+ in Charcoal Glass Top and Stainless Steel Bottom Panels.” Samsung Electronics America, accessed November 29, 2023, https://www.samsung.com/us/home-appliances/refrigerators/bespoke/bespoke-counter-depth-4-door-flex-refrigerator-23-cu-ft-with-family-hub-in-charcoal-glass-top-and-stainless-steel-bottom-panels-rf23cb9900qkaa/.

[2] Hirt, Meredith. “10 Smart Home Trends This Year.” Forbes Home, July 4, 2023, https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/internet/smart-home-tech-trends/.



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Rudy RamosRudy is a member of the Technical Content Marketing team at Mouser Electronics, bringing 35+ years of expertise in advanced electromechanical systems, robotics, pneumatics, vacuum systems, high voltage, semiconductor manufacturing, military hardware, and project management. As a technology subject matter expert, Rudy supports global marketing efforts through his extensive product knowledge and by creating and editing technical content for Mouser's website. Rudy has authored technical articles appearing in engineering websites and holds a BS in Technical Management and an MBA with a concentration in Project Management. Prior to Mouser, Rudy worked for National Semiconductor and Texas Instruments.


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