Home-automation reference designs build in ZigBee, Thread

November 18, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
From Silicon Labs, reference designs for connected lighting; a dimmable light switch; a contact sensor; and a smart gateway, feature the ZigBee 'Golden Unit' HA 1.2 Stack

The designs aim to simplify the development of ZigBee-based home automation, connected lighting and smart gateway products. The first in a series of turnkey IoT solutions from Silicon Labs, the new reference designs include the hardware, firmware and software tools that developers need to create interoperable, scalable, feature-rich connected home products based on Silicon Labs' ZigBee 'Golden Unit' Home Automation (HA 1.2) software stack and ZigBee system-on-chip (SoC) mesh networking technology.

Silicon Labs' ZigBee connected lighting reference designs feature wireless lighting boards as well as a plug-in demo board suitable for quick demonstrations and testing. The Golden-unit ZigBee stack allows LED lights to reliably join, interoperate and leave a mesh network, as well as scale from a few, to hundreds of light nodes on the same network. The connected lights can support white, colour temperature tuning and RGB colour settings as well as dimming.

The light switch provides colour, colour tuning and dimming control capabilities that traditional switches cannot achieve. These wireless, battery-powered switches have no moving parts and are easy to place anywhere in a home. The switch design features Silicon Labs' EFM8 capacitive sensing MCU to detect different user gestures (touch, hold and swipe). The contact sensor reference design provides all the tools needed to create wireless, battery-powered sensors used to monitor door and window positions (open or closed) - a useful feature for automatically triggering room lighting.

Silicon Labs offers two ZigBee gateway options to complement the reference designs:

- A plug-and-play USB virtual gateway that works with any PC development platform and supports the Windows, OS X and Linux environments as a virtual machine

- An 'out-of-the-box' Wi-Fi/Ethernet gateway reference design based on an embedded Linux computer system.

Both gateway options allow developers to control and monitor ZigBee HA 1.2 compliant end nodes through Wi-Fi with any device with a web browser, such as a smartphone or tablet. Using an intuitive, web-based user interface, developers can