Nearly one-third of set-top-boxes to use ZigBee in 2018, says IHS

Nearly one-third of set-top-boxes to use ZigBee in 2018, says IHS

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By eeNews Europe

However, due to the development of multi-protocol ICs, ZigBee technology is also set to allow STBs to become the center-piece of automated homes, explains Lisa Arrowsmith, associate director for Connectivity at IHS.

A total of 30 percent of STBs shipped globally in 2018 will integrate support for ZigBee RF4CE, up from just 3 percent in 2011, and under 7 percent last year, according to the report entitled “Low-Power Wireless in Computing and Home Entertainment Devices” from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS). The remaining STBs will use either IR technology or will include support for other RF technologies (such as Bluetooth) within remote controls.

A number of major ZigBee RF4CE chipset providers have announced the availability of multiprotocol system on chips (SoCs) which are capable of supporting two separate ZigBee profiles due to the inclusion of more memory, and an ARM Cortex M3 microprocessor. By integrating one of these integrated circuits, an STB can communicate both with the ZigBee RF4CE remote control, as well as with ZigBee Home Automation-enabled devices, which will allow the box to act as a home automation controller.

“The latest generation of ZigBee chipsets support more than one separate profile, enabling STBs to communicate not only with ZigBee RF4CE remote controls, but also with ZigBee Home Automation-enabled devices,” said Arrowsmith. “This can allow the STB to act as a central gateway to enable cloud-based remote home-control services, as operators seek to reduce customer churn and to increase average revenue per user.”

ZigBee RF4CE has already achieved significant adoption in the set-top box market, where it has been incorporated by a number of companies, such as Comcast, Pace, EchoStar, and Swisscom as an IR replacement technology. This can enable additional functionality within the remote control, such as gesture, motion, and touch control, as well as removing the line-of-sight barrier inherent to IR. Increasingly, operators are expected to add ZigBee Home Automation to these platforms, to enable additional services such as home control.

Comcast has already announced its Xfinity Home Control platform, in which both ZigBee RF4CE and ZigBee Home Automation are supported, allowing the STB to communicate with devices using either protocol.

Like Comcast, many other key service providers are looking for ways to create new revenue streams and differentiate themselves from their competition. Adding home automation services is viewed as one way to achieve this goal.

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