The rapid developments of IoT (Internet of Things) have brought new opportunities for silicon vendors. As a leading provider of mobile and TV chipsets, MediaTek has been putting lots of efforts in deploying IoT market over the past years, aiming to leverage its advantages in smartphone market to make inroads into the emerging applications.
"We have made significant progresses with several customers launching end products to the market," JC Hsu, corporate vice president and general manager of IoT Business Development at MediaTek, said. "We will keep building comprehensive IoT solutions and drive the industry moving forwards as a technology enabler."
Bring Mobile Advantages into Full Play
Hsu explained that IoT is a natural evolution from mobile Internet technology, along with the availability of telecommunication infrastructure. For a wide range of consumer IoT devices, low-power, connectivity, and multimedia are the key features, and these are the areas that MediaTek excels at.
"In terms of power consumption, IoT devices require more compact area but perhaps only one fifth of power budget. Similarly, connectivity includes cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other standard, thus we need to consider higher integration and interference issues in a smaller area. All these will be the critical factors for chip vendors to stand out from the competitive market."
"In addition, quality multimedia and camera functions are also essential. With our strengths in the TV, DVD, and mobile phone market, we are fully confident that we will be able to embrace new opportunities."
However, there are still plenty of challenges to be solved in the market. "IoT market is characterized by full diversity, small volume, multiple standards, security, and service-oriented vertical applications. Because of different functionality, specifications, and services, the turnkey solutions that used to be successful in mobile phone market can no longer fit. It challenges not only device makers' design and manufacturing ability, but also chip vendors' to provide total solutions."
Providing Solutions to Lower Design Barriers
In order to embrace market trends, according to Hsu, MediaTek is the members of GSMA, 3GPP, OIC (Open Interconnect Consortium), working with leading companies to participate in standardization process. Moreover, MediaTek's products are designed to support JD Cloud, Aliyun, OIC, and Apple Home Kit standards, as well as software and hardware development kits, in a bid to meet various product requirements.
Strategically, MediaTek will mainly focus on consumer market, where the company already has solid customer bases, and then expand to other applications, including industrial and automobile.
There are already some customers adopting MediaTek's MT2502 and MT2601 to develop a wide range of wearables, such as smartwatches, fitness bands, kid shoes, and bike computers. In addition, early this year, the company announced MT2511, its first bio-sensing analog front-end chip designed for health and fitness devices, to enable bio signal acquisition through electrocardiography (ECG) and photoplethysmography (PPG) simultaneously. Another new product is MT7697, which delivers low energy Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi for smart home and home automation products.
On the other hand, MediaTek endeavors to provide comprehensive hardware and software solutions and easy-to-use development platforms to help customer lower entry barrier and shorten time to market. At the same time, the company also actively builds an ecosystem, forming partnership with companies across different industries.
For example, by establishing MediaTek Labs, MediaTek tries to help developers and start-ups to quickly move from concept designs to mass production. With the market featured with small-volume but large-variety, it is difficult for developers and start-ups, which have very limited resources, to find manufacturing partners. "We hope to play a role between them and to fulfill both of their demands, so that these companies will be able to shorten time to market and get success."
Furthermore, MediaTek has actively sponsored several innovation competitions and cultivation programs in Taiwan and China to explore new innovative products and foster talents.
"Among them, Tinitell, a Sweden-based start-up, adopted our solutions to develop a wearable mobile phone for kids. By integrating 2G and GPS functions, the product can not only help parents track the locations of kids, but also talk to them directly. It was us that help Tinitell find a suitable manufacturer in China. This is a perfect example of how MediaTek Labs supports star-ups to launch products on market, because we believe that our success relies on customers' success", Hsu said
Innovation + Cross Cooperation to Shape New Landscape
As for industrial applications, Chunghwa Precision Test Technology Company (CHPT), a subsidiary of Chunghwa Telecom, adopted MediaTek's solution to develop data acquisition equipment, heading to embrace the Industry 4.0 trend. Also, the smart remote control devices developed by China's BroadLink can be used to control home appliances through mobile apps, the first step to realize the smart home vision, and the products has been moved into mass production this year. These are some of the successful stories that MediaTek has achieved to diversify its customer base in IoT market recently.
In terms of automobile applications, according to Hsu, by combining cellular and GPS technologies, various connected car applications, such as fleet management and asset tracking, are increasingly popular, and this is the area that MediaTek can play an important role.
He emphasized that the success of IoT relied on the combination of business models, hardware devices, and applications. Because devices are of no fixed functions, it is very important for device makers to understand the requirements of end applications and to seek for cross-industry cooperation opportunities. For example, in-car OBD (on-board diagnosis) devices can be used to collect related driving information for the analysis of drivers' behavior. The device can have more add-on values if they are provided to insurers, so that they can design insurance policies with more flexibility based on customers' driving patterns. This is an example to show why the design concept of IoT devices can not only be purely hardware, because their true value lies in effective business models, and needs to leverage through cross-cooperation.
Many of MediaTek's design-win cases in wearables and smart home markets are from China. Hsu said, "With rich resources and a great deal of companies, it is true that they are moving quickly to grab the business opportunities. For Taiwan, I think the industry should make more efforts to enhance its speed and flexibility to make inroads into IoT. In order to achieve more concrete results, we need to keep driving innovation and cross-industry cooperation. We find that many of Taiwanese companies begin to be active in the market. It's a great sign. Under the mega IoT trend, we do hope to team up with more companies to reshape the future landscape."