Figure 3: Example of PLC solution application spectrum.
The ARM Cortex-A8 is the first processor to incorporate a variety of technologies that make it ideal for the smart home use. These technologies include TrustZone security technology, the Thumb-2 instruction set and Jazelle-RCT for fast and efficient Java execution. All of these attributes as well as high flexibility with horse power make the Cortex-A8 an ideal fit for embedded smart home systems.
Not only is ARM helping to drive the technology forward, but major semiconductor companies, including TI, are contributing their technology as well. We are seeing the introduction of “combo ICs” as a welcome and much-needed next step. We’ve already seen superscalar combo-processors that enable Internet-ready applications to share rich media content among a variety of devices connected to the smart home network. These combo ICs include Bluetooth/Wi-Fi and Bluetooth/WIMAX/Wi-Fi among the many fascinating combinations readily available.
Another driving force behind the widespread acceptance of the smart home network is the security advancements. The smart electric grid is not only an amazing tool and feat, but a large liability. The U.S. government is working to ensure regulations are in place to keep the grid safe from terrorists, miscreant hackers, and others who may pose a threat. As the grid becomes smarter and more highly connected, it becomes a significant challenge compared to the mechanical versions.
A solution to resolve the security issue would be to move the smart grid to a cloud. Just recently, Verizon announced that it has teamed up with key players in smart grid technology to offer cloud-based Smart eMeter services. Moving to the cloud not only helps provide security, but the utility companies like it because of reduced upfront capital investment.
When you consider the aging infrastructure in this country, the need to combat global warming, and the need to use all of our energy more wisely, eMetering or Smart eMeters are ideal solutions with financial backing available from Washington. In 2007, President Obama signed into legislation a clean energy bill that included $4.5 billion in direct spending to modernize the current power grid networks with smart grid technologies. Additionally, a whole new generation of electric vehicles from Detroit is ready to make its grand entrance. Putting electric vehicles on the road benefits everyone – not only for the obvious environmental reasons, but electric vehicles also have the ability to even out the differences between the peaks and valleys in electricity demand making the utility companies and rate payers much happier.
As we transition from the eMeter to implementing Smart eMeters, users will be empowered with a truly connected home to save on cost, provide entertainment and daily life conveniences, and be environmentally friendly, making their own home a “home sweet smart home” indeed.
About the author
Sean Murphy is a manager for Focus End Equipments- Commerical human machine interface (HMI) for the Sitara ARM microprocessor business unit at Texas Instruments. His responsibilities include defining new solutions, developing reference designs, and shaping the Sitara ARM MPU roadmap for Commerical HMI applications.
In previous roles at TI, Murphy has served as a product marketing manager for the Sitara ARM MPU business and business development manager, focusing on the MSP430, C2000, and Stellaris Cortex-M3 microcontroller market and a test engineer.
Murphy received a Bachelor of Science in electronic engineering from Texas A&M University.
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