Broadcom’s WICED platform to move forward the Internet of Things

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As we move to ever connected devices, the Internet of Things becomes a far more important reality than had been expected. We got a chance to sit down with Broadcom, one of the principal players in this field at Mobile World Congress to discuss the future and the future definitely looks good.

Let’s start with a primer on what the Internet of Things (IOT) is. The premise is simple. Have every device connected and talking to each other. The collective cloud of information that is hence formed works towards making your life simpler and better. Industry estimates peg the number of connected devices to reach 30 billion by 2020. By current estimates, this number might even be achieved quicker. Everything from smart scales, watches, cars, thermostats like Nest, cameras and many more will eventually be connected. Driving this growth and focus towards IOT are company’s like Broadcom that are the hardware enablers and also the myriads of startups working on the software ecosystem to enable it.

An example in everyday life is when you go to the store, your purchase history, current location in the store can be tracked to push you notifications about deals on your favorite products. Current solutions like iBeacon are already working towards enabling this. Another fast growing field is wearables. A lot of us early adopters are using a variety of devices like the Pebble Smartwatch or Fitbit like wearable health monitors. These devices are being held back by the hardware capabilities on offer. These devices are but the first generation in a multitude of variations that will eventually lead to the true connected wearable. Imagine a device that is more than a glorified pedometer. A device that has built in GPS, a heart rate sensor and internet connectivity would be an infinitely more useful product. The next generation of hardware will not just have a lower cost, a smaller footprint but more importantly would consume lesser power. This is critical to enabling all day usage. Being connected to the internet and allowing seamless cross device syncing, communication will enable greater collective intelligence and the accompanying software ecosystem will give users a higher degree of metrics to make their life simpler.


Broadcom’s WICED (pronounced Wicked) platform is one of the many offerings that aims to create a reference platform for hardware and software providers to hook into. WICED stands for Wireless for Internet Connected Embedded Devices. The WICED platform combines GPS, NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth and provides a common architecture with a sensor hub that integrates inputs for on-chip algorithms. These algorithms can not only detect and compute speed, distance travelled but also context. The architecture is aimed at always on devices like wearables, health & fitness monitors, home security sensors as mentioned above. An integral part of the platform is Broadcom’s new BCM4771 GNSS SoC that has the on-chip sensor hub that delivers precise metrics for location data and activity tracking. This enables intelligence of a degree that has so far not been seen amongst wearables. The architecture can be scaled to work for thousands of devices across multiple verticals. WICED’s technology is part of the Samsung Gear 2 and shows how even the biggest of company’s can benefit from a consolidated architecture. WICED can however also be designed to be used by startups and brings the same technology as used by the likes of Samsung to hardware tinkerers and allows them to create the next big thing. The sensor hub is a critical part of reducing the overall bill of materials that makes the platform more accessible. Broadcom’s BCM4771 will start sampling by the end of Q1 2014.

Author: Dhruv Bhutani

Your friendly neighborhood techie. Currently using a Pixel 2 XL. Catch him on Twitter (@DhruvBhutani) / Facebook .