image CES

The Unification of Protocols in Home Automation

Motsai participated at the CES 2023 (Las Vegas) with our radio module partner Fanstel Corporation who had their booth in the Venetian Expo. The residential home automation section has grown significantly and is now under the Matter banner. Matter is a protocol that unifies solutions like Zigbee, Bluetooth and WiFi, to simplify the experience of integrating home automation. After several years of market fragmentation, the consensus now seems to be that the various connected objects in homes should go through a unified standard that will simplify the adoption of these technologies.

A side effect of this unification of protocols is that we gain access to universal radios supporting simultaneously Zigbee and Bluetooth, as well as very low energy WiFi. Our favorite chip suppliers are starting a battle to deliver us ‘System-on-Chips’ that will be both versatile and economical; in dollars and in energy. This market is huge and the demand is strong. Those are great conditions to reap mass production benefits of low cost and ample supply of devices to fuel creative projects.

If you think you’ve seen it all by connecting your lights, your alarm system, and your water damage prevention system, be prepared! It will be possible to connect your toilet bowl (urine analyzer), cat litter box, car charging station as well as air quality sensors. All complemented by smart cameras, autonomous lawn mowers and autonomous snow blowers that will respond to your voice commands. Without forgetting that these systems will be able to interact with you as some have experienced these days with ChatGPT. To be experienced !

The Democratization of Energy Storage Technologies

It is clear that the electrification of transportation is accelerating. There is little interest these days at CES to bring in big block cars… Except some classics like the big Caterpillar mining truck or the John Deere combine harvester or sprayer. The stars of the show this year are electric-powered cars of all kinds. Tesla does has a market advantage and interestingly they do not exhibit at CES. They demonstrate the hyperloop concept and maybe don’t need much visibility. The competition is shaping up and the diversity of solutions will be in the spotlight in the coming years. Companies are beginning to offer modular solutions such as an integrated motorization comprising the power unit, motor and connectors all in a integrated module, replacing the rear axle of a pickup truck to make it electric. One only needs to choose a matching battery pack to build a new electric vehicle quickly. And catch up if the team has not been able to keep up on the trends from the last few years…

This electrification of transportation brings along a significant improvement in the performance of rechargeable batteries. We see various companies now offering portable energy packs capable of powering an induction plate to grill a fishing catch in the middle of the forest or allowing the young to update their Instagram. One might even connect to a satellite link to make that last meeting (with a corporate background, of course) from the middle of the woods. Vanlife enthusiasts will also be happy to be able to bring on the road several spare kWh of energy without exploding their budget and without literally carrying a ton of lead on the road.

On a more technical level, silicon carbide substrates are evolving rapidly, allowing increasingly efficient energy conversion and therefore less loss in motors controllers and charging systems. Interestingly, silicon carbide is also used in jewelry: it is synthetic moissanite. Diamonds also make excellent substrates for power electronics!

The combination of battery improvements, semiconductor efficiency, and massive investment in the field will compound. In a few years, the baseline small family car will catapult its passengers like the roller coaster of an amusement park.

The modularization of technological solutions

At Motsai, we are always exploring opportunities to accelerate the development of technological solutions. Although they are all adapted to the needs of projects, over the years, we notice a constant improvement in the level of integration of the elements constituting a technologically advanced product. The CES allows us to discover those latest technological advances, particularly in terms of sensors and computing solutions.

A strong trend is now to integrate hardware accelerators for neural networks. For a few additional square millimeters on a chip, we gain benefits from “neural” co-processors which will allow, for example, the cameras of the future to distinguish faces directly near the image sensor. Expect smart objects that will recognize you and analyze emotions and voice without having to rely on high-speed internet connectivity and large computer clusters. A number of technological projects are evolving in parallel in order to support a lot of “intelligence” in future objects. It remains a challenge, but that is what fuels our interest in technology.

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