Next-Generation Smart Miniature Wi-Fi Modules Accelerate IoT and M2M

EC19D, EC19W, and EC32L development ecosystem - Smart Software, Smart Modules, IoT Made Easy. Think WiSmart.

Figure 1: Low-power, low-cost Wi-Fi modules enable nearly any device to connect with smartphones, tablets and cloud-based applications across The Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M). (Courtesy of Econais)

As the Internet of Everything begins to take hold, Wi-Fi is required to meet new challenges that are nearly as diverse as the applications it is finding in Smart Objects, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications. While price continues to be a key driver for Wi-Fi solutions, they must now also deliver higher performance and lower power consumption while supporting a broader variety of specialized applications and higher-layer protocols.

Smart things demand smart solutions

Econais offers a full range of Wi-Fi connectivity solutions created specifically to help designers meet these new challenges. From easy-to-use embedded modules and software development kits (SDK) to custom design and manufacturing services, each reflects Econais’ deep expertise in Ultra-Low-Power (ULP) and high-performance wireless product design. Equally important, they all benefit from Econais’ WiSmart technologies, which we’ll explore shortly. First, let’s look at some of the features which make Econais embedded Wi-Fi modules the shortest path to wireless connectivity and the IoT for nearly any application.

Figure 2: Econais’ embedded wireless modules are supported by a comprehensive development ecosystem and comprehensive software suite, which enables rapid development and certification of Wi-Fi enabled products. (Courtesy of Econais)

For example, the Econais EC19D01 module illustrated here (Figures 2 and 3) supports the IEEE 802.11b/g/n standards at actual data rates of up to 20 Mbits/s. This compact module measures 8 x 8 x 1.5 mm and consumes 12.3 μA in shutdown and 1.8 mA during normal operation.

Figure 3: System diagram of the Econais EC19D01 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi Module. (Courtesy of Econais)

Like all Econais embedded Wi-Fi modules, the EC19D01 includes a 32-bit MCU which supports the 802.11 protocol stack, a full-featured TCP/IP Stack with the accompanied network applications, data security, and also provisioning methods for device configuration. It is also responsible for exchanging data and control signals with the host system via standard Serial, SPI or SDIO interfaces.

The software provided with the modules supports all the necessary standards, features, as well as some additional unique capabilities designers need for IoT, M2M and Audio/Video applications:

Standard features
  • Serial to Wi-Fi
  • SoftAP (legacy AP)
  • WPS 2.0
  • Web configuration
  • TCP/IP stack with IPV4 support
Advanced features
  • DLNA
  • OTA FW upgrade
  • Application programming in MCU
  • Fast soft/hard cut roaming (18.4 ms)
  • WPA/WPA2 enterprise (TLS, TTLS, PEAP, certificates)
  • Xively integration
  • Wi-Fi direct
  • MQTT
  • Bonjour
  • RTOS
Unique features
  • ProbMe
  • Mesh networking
  • Synchronized audio
  • Power management engine
The EC19D01 module’s radio uses an advanced architecture to deliver high performance and energy efficiency. The radio section is an important part of all of Econais’ pre-certified, internationally compliant solutions, which dramatically shorten acceptance cycles and time-to-market. This design process will be further accelerated with the introduction of the EC19W01 module that is equipped with internal flash and integrated antenna and certified for all agencies.

The module’s 32-bit processor is powerful enough to support full Wi-Fi functionality, TCP/IP connectivity, multiple higher-layer protocol stacks with additional “overhead” for custom applications like High Fidelity audio, multiple streams of video, or streaming serial data streams. All Econais modules make good use of the processing power with a rich complement of embedded software and APIs that can be easily configured to a particular application’s requirements (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Block Diagram of an EC32L Econais module and software libraries. (Courtesy of Econais)

In addition to basic 802.11 capabilities, the firmware includes support for advanced Wi-Fi features such as Wi-Fi Direct with P2P-Client and P2P-GO, plus the full range of security options (WPS 2.0, WEP and the personal and enterprise versions of WPA/WPA2). An HTTPS/SSL security stack, a DHCP Client/Server, a Configurable Web Server and standard TCP/UDP Sockets, complement its on-chip TCP/IP protocol stack.

The application software module also includes Xively™ cloud services support to assist in the development of cloud-based applications. In a similar manner, home entertainment and home automation applications are supported through Digital Living Network Alliance’s (DLNA/UPnP) protocol stack. The unique and proprietary Econais ProbMe™ mass configuration technology built into modules allows for simplified out-of-the-box configuration and rapid registration of devices on existing Wi-Fi networks.

Figure 5: Cloud connected devices. (Courtesy of Xively)

To address the needs of specialized applications, Econais also offers a selection of embedded modules whose processing power, resources, and memory have been optimized for particular application spaces. By only providing the needed amount of processor resources, memory, serial/parallel and audio/video I/O, Econais enables designers to achieve the most cost-effective solution while still retaining the quality, reliability, and rapid time to market of its full-featured products. Econais’ design services bring the same technology and know-how to the semi- and full-custom designs they create for selected customers.

Econais engineers also recognize that technical support, when you need it for getting designs across the finish line, is a critical element when it comes to the evaluation and ultimate selection of the technology and company to whom you trust your design. Econais provides email technical support, online helpdesk ticketing, and a knowledgebase from which to find as many resources as you need to get your design up and going. Coupled with reference designs and sample code included with the software (and ongoing updates and downloads), designers designing anything from Smart Home to Industrial to Wearable to Audio/Video applications will find everything they need to get their products quickly and painlessly connected to the cloud.

Econais WiSmart = cloud connectivity without tears

Econais’ WiSmart technology seamlessly integrates its products’ embedded intelligence, wireless connectivity and Cloud Connectivity resources to help designers create smarter and more cost-effective IoT-enabled and Cloud-connected solutions. All embedded modules are supported by a powerful set of development tools which make it easy to select and customize any of the pre-tested protocol stacks, applications, drivers and other resources Econais bundles with its products. In addition, Econais has partnered with Xively Public Cloud service specifically built for the Internet of Things and has licensed its Cloud services API.

Econais WiSmart solutions already enjoy low power, low cost, and small size. By adding native support for Xively’s Cloud services API, they can now be easily integrated within sensors and monitors to support Cloud-Based Services such as:
  • Remote/cloud-based utility metering and Smart Grid
  • Healthcare monitoring and telemedicine
  • High fidelity audio and video streaming
  • Remote monitoring, data acquisition, and control
  • Security applications
These, and many other applications, can benefit significantly from cloud access primarily by using the cloud for:
  • Remote data logging (requiring little to no onboard memory resources)
  • Remote data monitoring (to track and even predict performance metrics)
  • Adaptive, optimized, and automated control from web programmable user profiles (requiring a minimum of onboard processing or computation)
  • Distributed data collection, trending, and forecasting
  • Remote control and configuration by users from anywhere in the world
Econais has built its business on enabling smarter, more cost-effective embedded Wi-Fi solutions. With the addition of WiSmart technologies, it now also offers the smallest, fastest, most cost effective way to put your design on the IoT.

WiSmart, Econais, EC19D, EC32L, ProbMe and WiSAudio are trademarks of Econais, Inc. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.