As we mentioned in last article: Smart Enough? The Three Most Frequent Issues in Smart Assistant Applications, smart assistant can be vocally activated to provide entertainment support, help search information, and control other smart devices in houses, offices, or hotel rooms. Generally, a smart assistant, to complete these tasks, has to work with other devices, such as going online with wireless access points (AP) or synchronizing with smart phones via Bluetooth. However, we found several interoperability issues after paring up six smart assistants with 20 APs and 20 smart phones. In this article, we argue that, even for the products that have been certified by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, interoperability issues can occur during the complex matches among the various products in the market. Read more
Voice recognition has become the prevalent technology for remote authentication. To fulfill people’s imaginations for “convenience,” tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Apple started to develop their own voice recognition systems and have invented and brought “Smart Assistant” to the market.
Generally, a smart assistant can be vocally activated to provide entertainment support (e.g. music and radio), help search information (e.g. wiki, translation, and recipe), and control other smart devices in houses, offices, or hotel rooms. These clever helpers later become the focus for those manufacturers who attempt to step further in the IoT era. Read more
According to research firm IHS Markit, the number of IoT devices will increase on average 12% each year from 27 billion in 2017 to 125 billion in 2030. As more devices go on the Net, the limited wireless channels have become more congested that brings plenty of connectivity issues to the real-world and further deteriorates user’s experiences.
Unlike one-to-one communication of traditional devices, communication of IoT devices has become one-to-many. The performance of IoT devices should involve in three factors: product capability, network connectivity and user environment/ behavior. Vendors thus need a new methodology to verify products before launching to the market. This article will discuss a new methodology of IoT device validation “Heat Map Analysis”, which is used to perceive real-world factors and further discover and resolve common wireless connectivity issues.
Significant developments in information and communications technology affect activities of industries, businesses and our social lives bringing about changes to our immediate living and work environment through improved and seamless connectivity.
Allion works closely with customers to provide testing services that identifies interoperability between their IoT devices and other IoT gadgets. In our state of the art IoT facility, with a real home simulation infrastructure, Allion performs repeatable testing for a wide range of IoT products and customer base.
A part of these tests includes emphasis on: network connectivity; proximity test, interference and roaming testing of all your IoT devices to define interoperability, functionality and stability of the tested IoT devices. We help our customers address the many challenges associated with connectivity and incompatibility by leveraging our huge testing expertise in different domains. The next section is meant to introduce ways we render our IoT test services.
As CES marks half a century of bringing innovation to the world, there were over 3800 vendors from 150 countries and 170000 attendees. Many conceptual products shown in the past have become actual or even mass production products this year. Out of all the products exhibited “VR” related products has been the focus of attention, this can be seen in the 79% increase for related products. Autonomous vehicles & vehicle related technology have also been the focus of this year, with well over 200 thousand Square foot of exhibition space. Allion is here to provide first hand coverage for all you tech fans out there.
The 2015 Taiwan Technical Forum, hosted by the Economic Daily News, ended on July 28. This year, the main topic of the forum was the Internet of Things (IoT) and its applications. Smart homes are a hot topic in the IoT field since these applications are closer to our daily lives. IoT device makers have recently expanded their smart home initiatives by creating different IoT devices to capture new business opportunities.
Since the smart home market is quickly maturing, IoT device manufacturers are predicting that there will be an explosion in demand for smart home devices in 2016. In order to effectively compete for market share, IoT device manufacturers are not only focused on their marketing strategy, but also emphasizing product performance, stability, and interoperability.
With the arrival of the "digital home era", people can set TV show broadcast schedules through the Internet and seamlessly link to places all over the world via mobile phones. Children can learn new things with tablets and play with interactive games. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IOT) and Cloud Services (and other new emerging network concepts and applications), network technology now supports high-speed multi-functional IOT devices that are pushing us out of the "digital home era," and into a new "smart home era."
The trend of "smart home" applications can be found from Apple HomeKit platform and the packages introduced by MI and other various smart home manufacturers. The average family only needs to own a versatile network control center to easily manipulate the surrounding digital household products. A mobile phone can then be used to setup (via APP) the security sensor system for doors and windows, to turn on a smoke or gas detector in the kitchen, to remotely control smart light schedule and brightness. All sorts of intuitive applications can be used to achieve greater energy efficiency, security, automated detection, and comprehensive control of the home.
In order to achieve and promote the new "smart home era", manufacturers must strictly control transmission performance, product function stability, and improve compatibility between IOT products. Therefore, to ensure quality performance, there is a need for professional testing validation and consulting services.
Allion Smart Home Testing Services
Allion has developed a set of customized authentication programs for smart home environments, covering three major smart home ecosystems-"Cloud Service/Data Exchange", "UI/APP" and "End User Device", which is expected to assist our customers in debugging and to provide advisory services in different stages of product development, and bring optimized user experience to the end-users as a result.
Figure 1: Allion Smart Home Ecosystem
Smart home quality verification services include Hardware Development Support, Software Apps Validation & User Experience Optimization, Cloud Service Validation, RF Signal & Interference Validation and Interoperability Testing.
In addition to the product quality certification described as above, Allion has studied the transmission technology field for many years and is also accredited as a certified laboratory by a number of International Standards and Technology Associations, authorized to execute Wi-Fi, DLNA, Bluetooth, G.hn and so forth.
Figure 2: International Standards Association Certification Marks
Allion is currently one of the only laboratories in the world that certifies all 18 Wi-Fi certification services (please refer to Figure 3: Allion comprehensive Wi-Fi certification services). At the same time, our dedicated Bluetooth laboratory and certified experts are also combined with Bluetooth and networking technology, to work on smart home test program. Allion, a key player in the field of home networking standards is the first HomeGrid Forum (G.hn) testing laboratory in Asia. Allion is now working closely with the Associations to promote G.hn technology, and is planning to launch standard certification services for power lines, coaxial cables, and telephone lines in June of this year.
Figure 3: Allion Comprehensive Wi-Fi Certification Services
Through many years of accumulated experience and technology, Allion has assisted countless clients successfully launch their new products to market. In this way, we have become trusted partners with well-known international customers. From this experience we have come to realize that in the real world, even products that pass existing standards may face problems, such as poor performance and these problems cannot be always be perfectly simulated and verified in the laboratory.
In the lab, precise execution of each test session, in terms of the product basic or functional levels, ensures that the products meet the specification and verification standards of the certification process. However there situations may arise that distort the results, either in terms of product interoperability or transmission performance. A laboratory is a controlled space and therefore less susceptible to outside interference; it therefore may not always correspond to the situation in a typical family living environment. In real life, wireless RF products are more susceptible to interference by other devices that reduce transmission speeds. Different use patterns, antenna setup angles, and wireless signal reflections may also indirectly influence product function.
In order to better simulate real life, Allion this year is building a new "smart home test environment" to simulate the general user mentality, habits, behavior patterns as a starting point. With this new test environment, Allion can now operate and verify the quality and performance of the product design and provide innovative customized services in accordance with different customers demand for products.
The New Smart Home Test Concept
Allions’ new "smart home test environment", located nearby our Central Taiwan Science Park (CTSP) Branch, is a typical apartment with three bedrooms, two living rooms, and two bathrooms. This apartment matches a typical dwelling for a small family of three, with a master bedroom, guest room, and a child’s room.
The new smart home test environment is furnished with basic home items such as a sofa, TV cabinets, beds, desks, wardrobes and so forth. We also purchased some common appliances and electronics, such as a television, wireless speakers, computers (desktop and laptop), wireless LED lights, and so on. We installed these devices in different compartments with powerline wireless extenders, one-in-three wireless phones, and a microwave in the kitchen to introduce interference from other electrical products in the 2.4GHz band (see Figure 4: Allion Smart home testing environment).
Figure 4: Allion Smart Home Test Environment
Our planned smart home test environment program is suitable for testing different products and test scenarios. Here are two examples that will give readers a better understanding of our new smart home testing service.
Case I: Tablet PC Usage and Link Effectiveness
Case II: Test G.hn Power Line Adaptor
In addition to the two test cases listed above, the test subject can be extended and applied over various products. For instance, Bluetooth manufacturers can test whether there is any interaction between Wi-Fi APs and Bluetooth remote controls or headsets. Additionally, manufacturers can verify whether or not wireless microphones affect LTE calls. In turn, mobile phone manufacturers can test the performance of different branded phones using an authentic test environment.
We firmly believe that with our new smart home test environment program, customers will be able to obtain better recommendations for their hardware, software, and user interface design. With this new test facility, Allion is ready to welcome the arrival of the imminent arrival of the Internet of Things. Allion has more than twenty years of experience in the electronic test services industry. We have leveraged our strength in standard certification and product quality analysis, to create this new smart home test environment. Herewith, we earnestly invite you to experience our excellent customer support and new innovative services!
Last century, the Internet was new and data flowed over IP to connect the world. Due to limited bandwidth, only text-based email and primitive web surfing was initially available to consumers. As networking technology advanced, multimedia content delivery became more viable and as a result, the desire for bandwidth has steadily increased. At this point, most consumers now expect stable and convenient broadband Internet service, especially at home. Since high-bandwidth home Internet service is now a reality in most modern countries, the delivery bottleneck has now moved from the curb to the living room.
In parallel with the rise of the Internet, home entertainment options have proliferated and advanced. Over the past decade, the television industry has gradually moved from analog to digital content delivery. As a result, consumers now have instant access to an almost unlimited multiverse of multimedia content, in the form of on-demand and live programming. Simultaneously, the television itself has evolved from a bulky, power-hungry box into a sleek, slim, and more eco-efficient LCD display. New TVs support 4K UHD (Ultra-High-Resolution) and offer “Smart” Internet-enabled interfaces and applications, similar to those found on popular tablet devices. Home entertainment accessories such as DVD players, Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), Over-The-Top (OTT) boxes, and game consoles also compete for attention. Most of these new devices and technologies are either dependent on or enhanced by a broadband connection. Unfortunately, these same devices are often located far from a wireless hub or direct wired Ethernet connection.
As a result of all these technological developments, digital entertainment content delivery is now increasingly dependent upon the broadband Internet. Unfortunately, pre-existing paradigms of Internet service delivery have impeding broadband penetration rates and degraded the user experience. Historically, wireless home networks were relatively slow (MB/s) and suffered from inconsistent coverage. In contrast, wired connections were faster (GB/s) and more reliable. However, most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) chose wireless over wired in-home networking solutions due to the relative ease of installation and management of a single wireless hub. This imperfect situation may be resolved in the future through the adoption of new wired networking technologies that piggyback broadband signals over existing power, cable and telephone wires.
Three wired networking protocols compete for dominance in this new space: G.hn, HomePlug, and MoCA. A fourth protocol, HomePNA, also exists, but it is a more mature standard that is managed under the same umbrella as the G.hn protocol. The following discussion introduces G.hn networking technology. Many of its advantages also apply to competing protocols (i.e., HomePlug and MoCA), but we will not compare or contrast these other protocols here, in part for the sake of impartiality. Regardless of its advantage over preceding networking technologies, G.hn represents an emerging broadband networking solution that deserves attention in and of itself.
What is G.hn?
G.hn is an abbreviation of Gigabit Home Networking, a set of wired networking protocols, established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and managed by HGF (HomeGrid Forum). HGF unites more than 70 stakeholders, from international telecommunications providers, system vendors, to chip suppliers. The G.hn protocol allows signal transmission over home power lines, coaxial cables, telephone lines, and even plastic optical fiber for connection speeds up to 1 Gbps. G.hn represents a new home networking alternative. Like wireless technology, it extends Internet connectivity without the need for new wiring. Unlike wireless, it operates at must faster speeds. G.hn does not rely on or interfere with existing home networking technology and consumers do not need to replace existing devices. Due to these factors, G.hn seems to be the ultimate wired networking technology, achieving high performance over existing home wiring.
G.hn and HomePNA
In 2014, the HomeGrid Forum (HGF) attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. At this show, HGF successfully demonstrated two generations of home networking technologies, HomePNA and G.hn, delivering IPTV content simultaneously over the same wiring. Figure 1 如下 shows the poster from the CES booth that outlines the demonstration, while the text box below Figure 1 provides more details.
Figure 1: HGF Demonstration at 2014 CES
This demonstration proves that G.hn works well with other networking protocols. With HomePNA operating over coaxial cables and G.hn over power lines, each protocol can establish its own separate network without interference. Using G.hn power line networking to extend an existing HomePNA network, service providers could reduce installation costs involved with deploying new cables to rooms with no coaxial or telephone connections. ITU-T also developed G.cx, a G.hn based standard for coexistence with other power line technologies (e.g. IEEE 1901). It enables the shared use of power lines, where the networks take turns using the wire. While this is a less than optimal solution, it does offer an option to operators that wish to convert existing IEEE 1901 deployments to G.hn in phases.
Power line connections from the power plant cannot be interrupted between the inside and outside of a home, as electricity must be able to flow freely between the utility and the home residence. Power Line Communication (PLC) networks send signals outside the home that can interfere with other nearby PLC networks. In Asia this occurs frequently with PLC networks, mainly in high-density multi-dwelling unit (MDU) apartments found in major metropolitan areas. G.hn has well-defined algorithms and signaling mechanisms that enable G.hn networks to coexist with other PLC networks.
Standard G.hn features stable broadband signal transmission that coexists with other networks, requires no additional wiring, and conforming to environmental standards. In contrast, G.hn Lite is focused on home automation with a simplified transmission protocol that offers less complexity and lower power requirements. Using a power line transfer mode that operates in the 25 MHz bandwidth, G.hn Lite devices can operate on the same wire, regardless of the frequency range. Imagine, using your Smart TV remote to control lights or directly manage the house security system. These types of applications are possible with G.hn Lite.
G.hn Compliance and Interoperability (C&I) program
Products that pass G.hn logo verification ensure interoperability with other G.hn compatible devices. As the first Asian test house for G.hn certification and validation, Allion helps companies pass G.hn certification testing and gain product verification. Since G.hn testing is focused on chip design, compliance tests can be avoided by using pre-certified chipsets. This represents significant time and cost savings for developers. Smaller developers are always looking for ways to get products and services to market with lower overhead. G.hn certified systems enable these companies to move ahead relatively quickly, speeding their time to market. Allion provides the following test services for G.hn certification:
Compliance Testing: Silicon
Microchip testing is fundamental to confirm G.hn network compliance; this covers both basic network performance and higher logic calculations. Integrated circuit hardware is analyzed for network signal interruption under various conditions. Device software and firmware is also tested to confirm compliance with the associate standards and specifications.
Product Logo Certification Testing: Systems
The HGF has established prerequisite certification testing for system that incorporate G.hn certified silicon. The two main dimensions of system testing are interoperability and performance. G.hn test devices that pass interoperability testing will work with other certified G.hn devices. G.hn devices that pass the performance testing are certified to perform either at or above minimum acceptable networking standards.
G.hn Market Trends – Focus on Asia
At this point, there are 22 system companies developing G.hn compatible products that represent an impressive roll call of leading brands from all parts of the globe. The list includes Arris, Blu-Castle, CIG, D-link, Gemtek, Netwave, ST&T, Teleconnect, Ubiquoss, ZTE, and ZyXEL. Just as there are many system vendors, silicon is also available from several sources, including certified chipsets from Marvell and Sigma Designs, with chipsets from Metanoia, Xingtera and TangoTex in development, in addition to Triductor. The Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan predicts that in the next four years, global equipment sales of G.hn products will reach up to US$6.67 billion, which means the demand for G.hn on the market is increasing.
This year, HGF is focused on Asia because it is poised for growth. First, Asia is the center of telecommunication equipment manufacturing. Second, progressive service providers, such as Chunghwa Telecom and China Telecom, are already deploying G.hn. In 2014, Chunghwa Telecom vigorously pushed out G.hn technology, with the launch of its high-speed broadband Internet service, offering speeds up to 300 Mbps to the home. G.hn has recently been promoted at the Shanghai Technical Forum (April 2014) and at Computex in Taipei (June 2014). At Computex, Comtrend announced the first G.hn verified system product. Marvel has also released the first G.hn verified silicon product, which includes MIMO for easy home network expansion.
G.hn seems to be the ultimate wired networking technology, achieving high performance over any existing home wiring. Although its applications are not limited to home entertainment, it seems ideally suited to bring broadband content from the curb to the living room. Whether or not it becomes the dominant standard for unified wired home networking, it is definitely a formidable technology for extending broadband networks within the home.
In recent years, in addition of popular portable devices and wearable devices, another new trend gradually emerges – smart home, from the original condition of thunder, little rain, and instead began to catch everyone’s attention. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), many technologies companies join the event; where it shows how the digital audio and video content to import and integration used in real life. It is worth noting that hardware brand manufacturers began to focus on the integrity of content services, expected in the hardware and software integration, industry ecosystem will be more robust, the combined effect will promote to the synergistic effect.