In-home display (IHD) units play a critical role in helping customers reduce their energy usage by providing relevant stats in real-time. Indeed, IHD units are typically designed to acquire and display information via a sensor with built-in RF and/or PLC. A more effective method? Transmitting information from a smart meter using a home area network.
“IHD units vary in complexity, from simple wall-mounted segment LCD displays, up to battery-operated products with color TFT displays and touchscreens,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “Advanced IHDs can display not only consumption information, but energy consumption advice from energy providers. They can also support a variety of additional functions such as home automation.”
To be sure, IHD units typically support displays, connectivity via USB and RF, as well as low power and touch buttons or screens for a fully interactive user interface (UI). And that is why Atmel offers a wide range of versatile microcontrollers (MCUs) for IHDs, from entry-level 8-bit AVRs to a sophisticated ARM9 core with embedded LCD graphics display controllers.
“In short, Atmel’s MCUs help facilitate flexible touch solutions, from buttons and wheels to sophisticated touch-screens, all providing support for a wide range of user interface features and capabilities,” the Atmel engineering rep explained.
“Meanwhile, power line communications (PLC) system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions with full digital implementation deliver best-in-class sensitivity, high performance and high temperature stability. Plus, our CryptoAuthentication lineup provide a cost-effective, easy-to-implement security solution that is critical for wireless communication between meters and IHD units.”
In terms of power efficiency, Atmel offers a number of advanced capabilities, including 1 µA watchdog and brown-out, picoPower tech for extended battery life, an event system to allow measurement while CPU is in SLEEP mode, support for true 1.6V operation, low-power RF transceivers for connectivity and the lowest power 32 kHz crystal oscillator (650nA RTC).
“In-house display units can range from a basic segment LCD to a more sophisticated color TFT. Depending on the display choice drivers and required processing power, the primary microcontroller can be either an entry-level 8- or 32-bit MCU, scaling up to a more powerful embedded MPU with on-chip TFT LCD controller,” the engineering rep added.
“As products become more sophisticated, so will the UI. Atmel touch technology provides robust support for state of the art features such as capacitive touch buttons or a full touchscreen. The communications within the IHD depend on the implemented architecture of the HAN (typically RF or PLC). Of course, wireless connectivity can also be supported via Secure Digital Input Output (SDIO) cards.”
Interested in learning more about designing in-home display units with Atmel tech? Be sure to check out our extensive device breakdown here.