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IoT in China: Toward a Connected Future | Cypress Semiconductor

IoT in China: Toward a Connected Future

Industry watchers know that smartphone adoption is surging in China. That means the Internet of Things (IoT) — an era in which any and all electronic devices will connect to the network and specialized apps — isn’t far behind.

The Internet of Things ecosystem is expected to be vast — with some 50 billion devices to be connected by 2020, according to Cisco. With China home to a fast-growing community of developers and technology entrepreneurs, the world’s most populous country will not only be a big consumer of Internet of Things gadgets; it could lead the way.

Take these telling stats: Beijing is expected to invest $800 million in the IoT industry by 2015. By 2020, China’s IoT market is expected to hit $166 billion. 

China isn’t just a consumer of smart home appliances and wearables—its design houses are actively working to build the pieces they need to complete the whole IoT process themselves. That encompasses everything from engineers innovating new IoT designs to developers creating the software needed to drive the IoT devices.

Broadcom technology plays a key role in helping this vision materialize. It’s a topic that a local executive will address in-depth at the 2014 Computex trade show — the industry’s biggest for the Asia/ Pacific region — next week in Taipei, Taiwan.

Broadcom’s Dr. Ting Wei Li, senior vice president of sales for Greater China, will be giving a keynote talk at the Internet of Things Forum at the show.

He’ll touch on Broadcom’s efforts to empower IoT device makers and entrepreneurs through its WICED™ platform, a low-cost, low-power development tool that provides out-of-the box connectivity to help get new IoT products to market faster.

Ahead of Computex, Broadcom announced the latest evolution of its WICED offering, the BCM20737. A few new features make this WICED Smart system-on-a-chip even more attractive to IoT developers: added security, wireless charging and iBeacon support.

While increasing smartphone use may have triggered the inception of the IoT market in China, its continuing emergence is being driven by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® Smart, a low-energy flavor of Bluetooth that’s ideal for small devices that run on long-lasting batteries, such as wearables.

Bluetooth Smart is a key enabler for the emerging wearables market. The technology allows products to sip power at such an incremental rate that batteries can last for a longer time on a single charge. That’s exactly what’s needed to enable wireless communication in wearable devices like the Android-based smart watches or other health- and fitness-related devices currently available in China today.

Low-energy Bluetooth is seeing applications in the home automation market, too. Its potential use in appliances such as an air conditioner, oven or refrigerator has come into sharper view. By embedding the technology in these devices, consumers gain the ability to control them through their smartphone, whenever and wherever they want. They also gain cost savings and convenience.

Smart appliances such as the air conditioner, wine cooler, refrigerator, water heater, and washing machine from Haier, a leading home appliance manufacturer in China, are already available to consumers. All were on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, including the WICED SoC-powered air conditioner. The proliferation of the Internet of Things in China and beyond still faces few challenges; namely, having to contend with constraints particular to that market.

For example, end users in China won’t adopt the IoT devices if they are too costly and power savings must be a central feature. One reason the smart air conditioner is so popular in China is because it’s energy efficient, which is critical in a place like Beijing where air pollution is such a serious problem.

While the upcoming Computex show is sure to highlight the latest breakthroughs in information and communication technology, there is little doubt that the IoT and its explosion in China will be its centerpiece.

With Broadcom technology set to address the challenges associated with cost, power consumption and size, China may be well on its way to riding the leading wave into the IoT era.

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