The IEEE 802.11ah standard is the new PHY and MAC design that operates in the 900MHz band. It is intended to support extended range WiFi, and the Internet-of-everything (IoE) devices. It would compete with other technologies for home automation such as Zigbee and Z-wave which also use the 900 MHz band.
The 11ah standard is optimized from the ground up for extended range, power efficiency, and scalable operation, explains Qualcomm. It uses the 802.11a/g specification that is down sampled to provide 26 channels, each of them able to provide 100 kbit/s throughput. It can cover a one-kilometer area.
The new 11ah design enhances link-budget compared to 2.4GHz and supports mandatory and globally interoperable 1 and 2 MHz bandwidth modes which open up new use cases for WiFi: home automation, smart grid, wearable consumer electronics, low-power sensors, etc. 11ah also supports 4, 8, and 16 MHz bandwidths for higher-data rate applications (e.g. in the US where 26MHz is available in 900 MHz band).
With 11ah, WiFi coverage improves in previously hard to reach places such as garages, back yards, attics, buildings, factories, malls, etc. A single 11ah AP can provide whole home coverage.
An IEEE draft 2.0 version is expected in mid-2014 (IEEE timeline). Qualcomm and other participants have been leading these standardization efforts.
The 150 Kbps minimum data rate results in short on-time for sensors with short bursty data packets thus lowering their power consumption. It’s optimized to scale to thousands of nodes by using efficient paging and scheduled transmissions.
Apple’s HealthKit was rolled out at the recent Apple annual World Wide Developer’s Conference. The developer’s toolbox allows makers of health and medical devices such as Fitbit, UP, Misfit and iHealth to integrate their offerings with Apple’s new mobile operating system iOS8. The Health application may utilize the iPhone’s own M7 motion tracking hardware for data sourcing.
Android Wear is something of a follow-on to Google Health which has been permanently discontinued. Android Wear Apps now support the new wearables which include a variety of watches by Samsung Gear Live, the LG “G” Watch and Motorola’s Moto 360, as well as dedicated fitness devices.
Currently most all fitness devices and watches connect to a smartphone by Bluetooth at 2.4 GHz. With 900 Mhz, the range of smartwatches, smart meters, and fitness devices might be greatly expanded. Chips supporting Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.15.4, and Zigbee protocols are expected to arrive in the next year or so.
Meanwhile, the U.S. white space focus has been on remote broadband access, using the 802.22b and 802.11af standards. The U.K. plans on using these airwaves as building blocks for much slower M2M infrastructure for the internet of things.
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