Wi-Fi Sensing: The Next Wi-Fi Technology to Benefit the Broadband Industry

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4Q 2021 | IN-6302

As home broadband access continues to improve, the role of Wi-Fi technology is increasingly important to home networks.

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Origin Wireless Has Announced Wi-Fi Sensing Technology Home Monitoring 2.0

NEWS


As home broadband access continues to improve, the role of Wi-Fi technology is increasingly important to home networks. Wi-Fi is no longer considered to be a solution to provide wireless network connectivity within the home; industry players are now working to revolutionize Wi-Fi to support smart home applications by implementing Wi-Fi sensing technology. Origin Wireless, one of the early developers of Wi-Fi sensing solutions, has announced its Wi-Fi sensing and motion detection technology, Origin’s Home Monitoring 2.0. This solution will enable home security companies, Internet service providers, and Internet of Things (IoT) companies to seamlessly upgrade existing devices to use as motion sensors inside the smart home. It also supports features such as adjustable sensitivity levels, scheduling, and localization to detect motion.

Wi-Fi Sensing to Reduce Hardware Cost and Complexity of Smart Home Solutions

IMPACT


Today’s broadband homes are also increasingly adopting smart home applications. The use of smart speakers, smart lighting, temperature control systems, home security, and IoT applications for healthcare and senior care are increasing at a significant rate year over year. As smart home adoption increases, an efficient communication platform between smart devices within the home is becoming more and more essential. Sensors and cameras are generally required to detect and monitor smart home devices. The concept of Wi-Fi sensing is to build a sensing system on top of existing Wi-Fi standards where a Wi-Fi sensing agent is installed in a gateway, router, or access point to perform configuration, sensing, and control algorithms. The device is integrated with a Wi-Fi sensing agent and can detect Wi-Fi sensing capable devices within a home network to understand what is happening inside the home without requiring infrared sensors and cameras and therefore reducing hardware cost and complexity of smart home systems.

Origin’s Home Monitoring 2.0 will accelerate adoption of smart home solutions such as home security, healthcare, senior tracking, and so on. Linksys’s Velop routers are the first devices to integrate this Wi-Fi sensing solution. Origin has also announced their Hex Home Wi-Fi–based home security system earlier this year at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Other companies such as Aerial and Cognitive Systems are also developing Wi-Fi sensing solutions. This technology is in early development as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is still working toward its Wi-Fi sensing standardization project 802.11bf project that is expected to be completed by September 2024.

Technology Awareness and Marketing Strategies Are Essential to Boost Adoption

RECOMMENDATIONS


The Wi-Fi sensing solutions available now integrate artificial intelligence technology to learn normal patterns and to detect ripples created in Wi-Fi signals in order to determine whether actions should be taken for a detected movement. They are usually accompanied by mobile apps that are used to notify users about unexpected movements. These solutions can also trigger IoT devices to control home lighting, heating, and other systems based on movement detection. Since the solution can be integrated into broadband gateways, it enables broadband service providers to provide smart home services to their customers. The opportunity for broadband service providers to provide smart home services is quite optimistic. According to ABI Research market data, managed smart home–installed bases (smart home services managed by telcos or home security service providers) are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 9% to surpass 733 million in 2030. Home security, senior care and childcare, and energy management are some markets where service providers can partner with solution providers.

For service providers, Wi-Fi sensing is not limited to revenue-generating opportunities. It can also be used for churn reduction. Service providers can implement remote troubleshooting applications using Wi-Fi sensing technology. By detecting location of Wi-Fi devices within the home, broadband service providers can perform Wi-Fi network configuration, and network performance tracking and management can be done remotely to improve customer experience. Despite these opportunities, there may be some challenges with sensing accuracy when there is heavy traffic within the area in which the solution is deployed. In addition, operating in a higher frequency band can provide higher bandwidth transmission and a better resolution sensing result. When using a high frequency such as a 60 GHz band, detection in the non–line-of-sight environment can be challenging. For example, healthcare and senior care applications may need higher accuracy, thereby necessitating the use of high frequency bands and more sense nodes to support a reliable monitoring system. Service providers and device makers need to design these solutions to balance between resolution and bandwidth, considering the type of application and potential traffic trends.

There has also been some concern regarding a potential breach of privacy by using Wi-Fi sensing. According to solution providers, the technology uses only Wi-Fi signals to detect motion, making it safer in terms of personal privacy compared with other solutions that use cameras or microphones. Service providers and device makers will need to educate end users in order to ease their privacy concerns. Mass deployment of Wi-Fi sensing may take a few years until 802.11bf standardization is completed. However, device vendors should currently be focusing on technology awareness to service providers and consumers for secure partnership deals while improving the technology to support evolving consumer needs. For service providers, keeping track of consumer demand and Wi-Fi sensing technology advancements to implement marketing and bundling strategies will enable deployment success.

 

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