Shelly Strengthens IoT Products Through Partnership

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By the end of the year, Shelly Group plans to release a more powerful Shelly chip with more memory, enhanced security and the ability to add more firmware features than previously available to its IoT and smart-home products, Shelly USA COO Doug Roberson told EE Times.

“The chip doubles our flash memory from 4 MB to 8 MB,” he added.

Shelly Group, formerly called Allterco, is based in Bulgaria and is made up of five companies, including Shelly USA. This year, it partnered with Espressif Systems, a Chinese provider of energy-efficient Wi-Fi and Bluetooth SoCs, for the first time: Espressif Systems is now designing and manufacturing a microcontroller for use in Shelly-branded IoT devices. Espressif Systems is known for its ESP32 and ESP8266 series of SoCs, which are widely used in AIoT products.

“This partnership enables us to guarantee the availability of chips with the features needed to power Shelly devices,” Roberson said. “Having guaranteed access is very nice for scheduling production runs.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Shelly, which has provided many technical and marketing insights to Espressif, to drive innovation in the smart-home industry,” Espressif Systems COO Teo Swee Ann said. “By combining our strengths and resources, we believe we can make a significant contribution to the development of IoT technology and bring about a more connected world.”

With its expertise in the design and production of microcontrollers, “Espressif is the ideal partner for us to jointly develop a Shelly chip that not only offers the flexible solution our customers are accustomed to for modular and step-by-step automation according to individual preferences but also opens up completely new possibilities for developers and users,” said Dimitar Dimitrov, co-CEO of Shelly Group.

The larger memory allows for future enhancements and extensions of functionalities, including additional network protocols and standards that enable interconnectivity among a wide range of smart-home products within an ecosystem, the companies said.

Shelly USA’s Doug Roberson.
Shelly USA’s Doug Roberson

“We’re seeing interest in capabilities rather than specific hardware,” Roberson said. “With the more powerful chip and additional flash, we will be able to add any number of firmware features that we couldn’t before. Some examples could be integrations for AWS and Azure IoT platforms, protocols like BACnet or Dali [digital addressable lighting interface] or enhanced security features. It gives us the ability to provide functionality and intelligence at the point of control for many different types of devices. There are many new directions possible now.”

The extra flash memory allows devices to store device history locally, such as power-consumption data, Roberson said. This allows the retention of data during connection outages, which is critical for accurate electrical cost calculations, he said.

Monitored appliances and devices can be connected to AI, which will help detect malfunctions, offer pre-failure notifications and predict events based on various characteristics of metering data, Roberson said.

The more powerful chip will also allow Shelly OS, the company’s new real-time operating system, to simultaneously connect to Matter, cloud and many other third-party platforms, all at once, Roberson said.

Earlier SoCs did not have enough cache to connect to more than one such platform at the same time, he added.

The new chip could be ready as soon as this month, Roberson said.

The improved chip can be tailored to the requirements of different sectors, he added.

“Having the ability to secure and certify encrypted connections is important for everybody, whether they realize it or not,” he said. “We also have to be able to adjust to each customer’s use case. Health data is the greatest intersection of risk outside of national security.”

For example, while grocery store and drug store systems both need cybersecurity, the drug store requires two-way encrypted communication, not just the inbound encryption required for a grocery store, Roberson said.

“Shelly’s … home-automation product line is one of the fastest-growing IoT brands in the world with devices, even the fastest on certain leading online marketplaces,” said Wolfgang Kirsch, co-CEO of Shelly Group. “With the development of our first customized chip, we are shifting up another gear in our approach to provide ever more advanced and powerful IoT devices with even more functionality and performance.”

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