Last week, I sat down with Irvind Ghai, Vice President of Product Management at Qualcomm Atheros, a division of Qualcomm that develops semiconductors for network communications, and learnt how domestic Wi-Fi as we know it is about to change – for the better. Here’s the low-down.
Qualcomm’s aim is to create a seamless Wi-Fi experience in the home, Ghai told me during a recent conversation we had at the Haymarket Hotel in London. He believes that Wireless Mesh Networks (WMNs) are the future, with the tech now accounting for more than 40% of the firm’s sales in the US domestic Wi-Fi market.
Your average Wi-Fi network is made up of one router, often located in a central location, that delivers a strong signal when you’re nearby. But as soon as you increase the distance between the device you’re using and the router, the signal drops – resulting in a slower connection. Wireless Mesh Networks solve that issue.
That’s because instead of relying on one router to do all the heavy lifting, Wireless Mesh Networks introduce a number of additional routers, called nodes, which are scattered all over the house, picking up and carrying the signal from the main router deeper into your home, including places that were previously hard to reach.
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Qualcomm has realised that these nodes hold a wealth of information and with a little bit of tweaking can be used to deliver an unrivalled smart home experience, revolutionising Wi-Fi in the process. To be more specific, it’s using the nodes to map the interior of a home, with a view to introducing localised voice commands.
Ghai envisages the development leading to interacting with smart home tech becoming a lot more natural and instinctive; instead of having to provide specific commands, you’ll be able to say things like “turn on the light” and because the WMN is continuously mapping your home, it will switch on the one closest to you.
If the advances deliver as advertised, our assistant-dictating lives could be about to get a whole lot easier. But more importantly, it would open up the door for a whole new wave of smart home products that run off Wireless Mesh Networks, eliminating the need to have hubs for each product dotted around the house.
Qualcomm wants to unify everything.
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