April 12, 2024

6 ways Wi-Fi HaLow can shape the IoT in 2024

Michael De Nil is the CEO and co-founder of Morse micro– Reinventing Wi-Fi for IoT.

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises a future where everything is intelligent and connected. IoT is impacting the way we live, driving new business models and revolutionizing virtually every industry it touches.

Last year saw significant upgrades in smart home technology, and 2024 will continue this trend. Matter, a standardized approach for smart home devices to communicate with each other in its third iteration, enables secure, seamless connectivity between devices from different manufacturers. More and more companies are introducing Matter-certified products, which address consumer concerns about how new devices might or might not work with existing ecosystems. By the end of 2024, there will be more than 17 billion connected IoT endpoints worldwide as new features and capabilities drive this adoption.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) enable manufacturers to create new classes of devices that can learn from routines and preferences. This means that the technology we introduce into our homes will be more accurate and responsive to what we want. We will also see our appliances become more efficient with intelligent sensors and learning algorithms to better manage energy consumption, while connected thermostats adjust home energy use based on lifestyle or seasonal patterns.

What really makes a device smart is internet connectivity, and Wi-Fi has become the de facto wireless protocol for connecting devices to the internet. However, its range and energy efficiency don’t make it ideal for battery-powered or low-power devices.

Wi-Fi HaLow Trends in 2024

To meet these demands, Wi-Fi HaLow, a sub-GHz protocol based on the IEEE 802.11ah standard and certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is quickly becoming a linchpin in IoT ecosystems. Developers are taking notice, as Wi-Fi HaLow received a lot of attention at the 2024 Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2024). Below are some of the trends we are seeing today regarding Wi-Fi HaLow and how it will reshape the Internet of Things.

1. A focus on smart cameras

Wi-Fi HaLow emerged as the protocol of choice for many of the latest smart security cameras. With its long-range capabilities and ultra-low power consumption, Wi-Fi HaLow makes it possible to install smart cameras in places they may have never reached before and run on smaller batteries with fewer charges.

However, due to the lack of a universal standard for Wi-Fi HaLow, some smart camera implementations may be subject to additional regulatory restrictions compared to cameras using different wireless technologies.

2. Industrial IoT (IIoT) revolution

Wi-Fi HaLow’s ability to penetrate obstacles and function in demanding environments is well suited for various IIoT and factory automation applications. The efficient connectivity provided by its long-range, sub-GHz nature proves beneficial for sensors, machines and IoT devices in factories, as well as warehouses and intelligent manufacturing processes.

The lower frequency band may result in more moderate data transfer speeds compared to traditional Wi-Fi, and developers may face initial challenges integrating Wi-Fi HaLow devices with existing industrial systems and protocols. However, with careful planning and tailored solutions, Wi-Fi HaLow IIoT devices can unlock significant efficiency, productivity and cost-effectiveness.

3. Convergence of AI and IoT

AI-driven analytics plays an important role in gaining insights from the vast amount of data generated by the IoT, optimizing operations, enabling predictive maintenance, and refining decision-making processes.

Highlighting the impact of AI, Global Insights projects significant growth at a CAGR of 31.7% between 2022 and 2029. This trend is expected to result in the proliferation of Wi-Fi HaLow-enabled IoT products integrated with AI.

4. Innovations in network infrastructure

Wi-Fi HaLow is deployed as an additional backhaul (in addition to the traditional 2.4GHz/5GHz backhaul) in mesh access points. A Wi-Fi HaLow backhaul functions as a control plane and can oversee low-throughput, small-packet network traffic, while the 2.4GHz/5GHz backhaul is suitable for high-bandwidth, low-latency applications. This leads to better channel utilization and greater network efficiency.

Wi-Fi HaLow will also be deployed as backhaul for IoT hubs and routers, improving the flexibility and reach of IoT hub deployments and providing superior obstacle penetration.

As Wi-Fi HaLow continues to evolve as a technology, the ongoing standardization process plays a critical role in ensuring compatibility, interoperability and reliable performance across networks. Through the standardization of performance requirements and certification programs, I believe a dynamic ecosystem of Wi-Fi HaLow network infrastructure technology is about to take shape.

5. Progress and growing interest

Due to its long-range and penetration capabilities, Wi-Fi HaLow is effective for areas such as asset tracking, logistics, inventory management and real-time monitoring of goods in transit. Many applications have been used for years, others are still in development.

For example, Wi-Fi HaLow is being explored for healthcare applications such as patient monitoring, which require regulatory compliance. Standardization, ecosystem development and interoperability will help make Wi-Fi HaLow more applicable in a wider range of use cases.

6. Bridging IoT connectivity gaps

Wi-Fi HaLow is gaining traction with its ability to reach distances of up to 3 kilometers, addressing previous concerns about its range capabilities. This improvement makes it more suitable for a wide range of IoT applications, from industrial environments to smart cities and smart agriculture.

The global increase in spectrum availability for Wi-Fi HaLow increases its deployment potential. It provides greater flexibility and scalability when deploying Wi-Fi HaLow networks across different regions, further increasing the attractiveness for IoT solutions. These developments, combined with efforts to ensure device interoperability and compliance with regulatory standards, are critical to realizing the full potential of Wi-Fi HaLow.

Obstacles and opportunities

Wi-Fi HaLow shows tremendous promise for use cases that require long-range, high-throughput, and low-power connectivity. While awareness of its usefulness for long-distance, low-power applications is growing, the introduction of each new standard brings compatibility issues. To address this, I believe more Matter products will be introduced in 2024.

Switching to Wi-Fi HaLow involves careful planning and adjustments in both technology and business practices. Organizations should start by reviewing their current network configuration to see where HaLow’s increased reach and efficiency can help. This includes team discussions to identify weaknesses in connectivity.

Finally, despite strong security features (such as WPA3 and AES), Wi-Fi HaLow faces potential security risks. Companies must update and thoroughly audit their security measures to comply with HaLow’s specifications. Success in adopting HaLow depends on a company’s ability to adapt, anticipate future needs and commit to continuous improvement.

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