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New smart home chip lets devices have 10-year battery life

New smart home chip lets devices have 10-year battery life

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Z-Wave sensor image
Image: Sigma Designs

What if the next couch you bought had a chip inside that relayed information to the rest of your home? I have no idea what that chip might do, or why you’d want it, but the possibility of a smart couch is moving closer reality, thanks to the smart home system Z-Wave.

The company behind Z-Wave, Sigma Designs, is announcing a new chip today that it claims can get more than 10 years of battery life out of a single coin-cell battery. Sigma hopes that extensive battery life will allow more and more parts of our home to get connected, including our furniture.

These are for simple, low-power products

In addition to the long battery life, Sigma says the chip, known as the Z-Wave 700 Series, has 300 feet of range, so it can work for gadgets placed outside the home and far off into the yard, too.

These are simple, low-power chips, so don’t expect them to be used for anything particularly complicated. Sigma suggests these will mostly be used for sensors — say, one monitoring for water leaks or motion.

Those things largely exist already, but the potential for them to be embedded in products and places that we currently ignore because it would be impractical to replace them with any frequency — or even at all — is what’s exciting here. It could let homeowners gather more data and different types of information than they currently can. They’ll still have to figure out how to put it to good use, but the potential is there.

The downside to this chip coming from Sigma is that it’s only compatible with the Z-Wave system. That means if your house is connected using a more accessible smart home service — like Alexa or Apple’s HomeKit — you’ll need a hub that bridges multiple platforms together in order to connect any Z-Wave devices. But if Sigma can do it, then others can’t be too far behind.