1. What market trends are driving products with short-range wireless capabilities?

The main market forces driving the development of short-range wireless products for home automation are convenience and ease of use, as well as the desire to lower costs. Whether it is the ability to synchronize a PDA with a computer, wirelessly connect the laptop to the Internet or remotely adjust the thermostat and open doors, consumers value easy, hassle free wireless systems. Wireless systems can also be much cheaper to install than wired systems as they don’t require people to drill holes in walls and climb around in attics or basements to route wires. In older or historic structures, wireless systems might provide the only cost effective option without significant changes to the structure.

2. What challenges are the designers of the above-mentioned products facing?

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The number one challenge designers of RF-based wireless products face is creating a system that clearly communicates between transmitter and receiver without interference from other systems in the home or interfering with those other systems. A high-powered transmitter, for example, can cause static and signal interruptions with other wireless systems. Designers use a combination of software and hardware techniques to get a clear, reliable transmission – build in redundancies, check for transmission quality- without intruding into other wireless applications.

3. What are the main wireless technologies available to designers of home products and what applications are they good for?

Depending on the application, manufactures will choose from one of four main wireless technologies in the home.

2.4GHz Standards: These communications protocols transmit high volumes of data at high speeds. They are used where speed and bandwidth are more important than price. In the home, 2.4GHz might commonly be used in a Local Area Network to connect a PC to a hub or in Small Office/Home Office situations.

Bluetooth: Originally a solution for point-to-point short-range communications such as connecting a cell phone to a PDA, Bluetooth is a growing standard for connecting a wide variety of devices within distances of 30 ft. One of the advantages is that it allows multiple devices to recognize and talk to each other. Hundreds of manufacturers are working on Bluetooth enabled devices but its cost makes it impractical for lower cost applications.

Radio Frequency (RF): A proven low-cost wireless technology, RF is ideal for situations where small to medium amounts of data need to be transmitted at medium to low speeds. Whereas Bluetooth might be used to connect a computer to a printer – two devices that must swap large files – RF is well suited for connecting the computer to the mouse or keyboard, applications that require slower data transmission rates. RF is widely used in gate and garage door opener applications, as well as window openers and lighting control. RF devices typically transmit at set frequencies such as 200MHz, 315MHz, 433MHz, 868MHz and 900MHz.

Infra Red (IR): Anyone who has ever had to aim a remote control at a television to get it to change channels, understands first hand the limitations of IR. A low cost technology widely used in stereo, VCR and television controls, IR is limited because it requires a direct line of site between the receiver and transmitter.

4. What are the key future applications using short-range RF that consumers may see?

Manufacturers are actively working on a number of exciting applications. In home security systems, sensors located on windows and doors can use RF to communicate with the central alarm unit. Other applications include remote garage, window, gate and door openers; wireless mice and keyboards; RF-based home entertainment remote controls and smoke detectors. In the automobile, RF is used on remote keyless entry applications and in tire pressure monitoring systems, where RF communicates the tire pressure from the sensor in the tire back to the receiver unit.

5. What impact can end consumers expect to see from Motorola’s new Remote Keyless Entry Reference Design?

The purpose of the Motorola RKE Reference Design is to help embedded system engineers develop RF-based products more quickly. By providing engineers with electrical schematics, hardware recommendations, software and training materials, Motorola greatly reduces the development cycle. For consumers, this means they will see more cost-effective, lower-cost RF-based applications.

6. What role do semiconductor “”microchips”” play in helping home networking and automation products incorporate short-range wireless connectivity?

Semiconductors provide the computing intelligence that enables the receiving and/or transmitting devices to know what information to send and how to act on that information once it is received. In a garage door opener for example, the RF receiver picks up the signal. The microcontroller then interprets the signal and activates the motor to open the door.

7. What is the timeframe and process (short description) to bring a new product to the market using Motorola’s new Remote Keyless Entry Reference Design? How much time and resources are saved by incorporating it?

Motorola’s RKE Reference Design and accompanying reference board provide the starting point for many RF-based applications. With these materials, design engineers could literally develop a prototype within a matter of days or weeks depending on the application, saving countless hours of development time. The time it takes to turn that prototype into production depends on the manufacturers production cycles.

8. Does Motorola plan more Reference Designs related to Home Networking product development in the near future? Can you give us a few hints about what to expect?

Yes, one of the next reference designs will focus on allowing RF-based devices to communicate with devices developed by other manufacturers, similar to what Bluetooth does for devices at higher data rates. Today, for example, an RF receiver in a window controller might only work with the RF transmitter made by the same manufacturer. Eventually, however, consumers may want one transmitting device that will control the windows, doors and gates. In addition Motorola has introduced other reference designs to assist with the development of Universal Serial-based products and passive Infra Red products.

Giovanni Cardamone
Marketing Development Engineer – South Europe
European Distribution Organization
Motorola 8/16bit MCU Division
Transportation and Standard Products Group
Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS), Motorola, Inc.

Giovanni Cardamone is the marketing development engineer for Southern Europe (France, Italy and Iberia) for Motorola’s 8/16 bit Microcontroller Division.

He’s married and his first child is expected to born in August.

His current responsibilities include maximizing microcontroller market share within the South Europe mass market serviced via Motorola’s four franchised distributors, namely Arrow, Avnet, Future and EBV.

Mr Cardamone’s responsibilities also include building strategic relationships with the Distributors.

Mr Cardamone joined Motorola 3 years ago (June 1999) and he’s based in Milano (Italy). Before joining Motorola, Mr Cardamone has worked for Hitachi Europe Gmbh, covering as Field Application Engineer the distribution market in Italy and Spain (1997-1999). From 1994 to 1997 Giovanni has worked for Arrow Italy with a FAE responsability for Hitachi, Motorola, TI and Microchip microcontrollers. Between 1993 and 1994 he’s worked as a teacher for “”Electronic Science”” in the Secondary School in Italy.

Giovanni Cardamone received the Degree in Electronic Engineer at the “”Politecnico of Milano”” on February,1993.