By Alistair Fulton, Vice President and General Manager of Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group, Covid-19 has forced many people to embrace work from home, and this trend is likely to continue. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Business Economics, only 1 in 10 expects all employees to revert to their pre-pandemic work arrangements (NBC News). With more and more employees working from home, there has also been a growing demand for easy-to-use smart home technology. Low Energy Wide Area Network (LPWAN) appears as the ideal technology preferred, thanks to the flexibility and control it provides as well as its ability to play well with other solutions, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This flexibility gives people the ability to create more efficient homes and enables the smart devices we use to extend outside the front door and under the building. Smart neighborhoods will be a major theme in 2021, with simplicity and security prioritizing down to the grid. LPWAN technology for this type of control will continue to expand and evolve for use cases requiring communication over a further distance, inside and out. LPWAN IoT hubs of helium continue to circulate globally in the unlicensed sub-gigahertz range. This allows consumers to easily host their base station to provide communications across neighborhoods. By adding LPWAN sensors and actuators, people can make buildings and neighborhoods smarter, without having to install an entirely new infrastructure. Additionally, Amazon has leveraged LPWAN in its smart speakers and will continue to leverage its capabilities as Sidewalk extends across the vicinity. This connection will give cars, buses, pedestrians, and even pets better access to a low-energy wireless network. This approach allows smaller devices with long battery life to run smoothly across all parts of the connected area. Because of this, we can expect an increase in the number of devices that can connect to the Internet and, therefore, our current systems will not be able to handle it. So what’s the best way to deal with this? QR codes have been used in recent years to simplify adding devices and expanding the network. This is incorporated into the latest LPWANs to help handle hardware flow. But QR codes can only reach far and wide, and automating communication in a secure and simple way is the key: security. Security is essential when it comes to connecting devices wirelessly. Although security comes with challenges for users, Amazon and other companies have focused on simplifying the process for some time. simplicity. Simplifying user experience is also critical when it comes to LPWAN usability. Low-power, smaller device designs with longer battery life will see technology become a part of everyday life. As Covid-19 forced most of us to embrace a new normal in the past year, it has focused on the need for a secure connection in our smart homes and smart cities. Staying in touch is more important than we had anticipated, and it is important for devices to be interoperable throughout our homes and neighborhoods. For this reason, we will see a huge growth in LPWAN technology. Consumers need a simple solution that enables interoperability and seamless communication between multiple devices that can exist in a single environment, and LPWAN can help meet this demand. With nearly 65% of companies allowing “most or all of their employees to work from home”, an ecosystem of global technology companies can help make communication more intuitive and easy to use (NBC News). Cover photo: Pixabay.