The internet of things, or IoT, movement is growing stronger by the day, but faces a few roadblocks. One of them is a connectivity standard that takes less battery power than Wi-Fi and is capable of longer range and better wall penetration than Bluetooth. The lack of such a standard is what currently has most IoT applications either tied to their host device, tied to an electrical outlet or both in some cases. As it happens, just such a standard was announced this morning.
The new standard, known as Wi-Fi HaLow, has longer range than Bluetooth, takes much less power than Wi-Fi and gets through walls and other interfering objects just as well as regular Wi-Fi. Additionally, since Wi-Fi HaLow connects to your router, IoT devices will be able to reach the internet without a middleman device or cables running throughout your home. An extension of the new Wi-Fi 802.11ah standard made to operate on the powerful and efficient 900 MHz spectrum, HaLow is expected to roll out just before 2018, with certifications beginning officially that year. Kevin Robinson, VP of Marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance, praised HaLow as being just as good as current tech in terms of battery life, saying, “HaLow will provide similar characteristics in terms to battery life to technologies that are out there today…” If this and other claims regarding HaLow all hold true, IoT as a movement could be looking at a big roadblock being pushed aside.
Wi-Fi HaLow, operating on a lower frequency, boasts better range and penetration than even normal Wi-Fi, but at the cost of data throughput. It should be stressed, however, that most IoT devices won’t need more than HaLow can supply. Things like smart thermometers, appliances and sleep trackers would never conceivably end up needing the kind of bandwidth that traditional Wi-Fi boasts, making HaLow the perfect middle ground. Robinson is well aware that Wi-Fi and its HaLow branch won’t be the only players in the rapidly expanding field of IoT. He makes this clear by stating that “No one expects that the Internet of Things will consolidate on a single connectivity technology.” This leaves the IoT world and future standards open for discussion and innovation, with HaLow as the start of a new world of IoT-centered development in the connectivity world.