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Avoid Bricks When Building Your Smart Home

Brick homes are known for being sturdy and reliable. However, there is one type of brick you don’t want in your house, and that is a bricked smart home device.

What is a bricked device? A bricked device is a smart device that no longer works and is no more valuable than an actual brick. Not what you want for a smart home.

There are many possible reasons smart devices become bricked. One common source of device bricking is due to Wi-Fi communication errors. Perhaps the local SSID has changed, or the security certificate has expired, or a previous software update disables the Wi-Fi. Also, a nearby power surge can sometimes cause memory corruption leading to a bricked device.

Fortunately, Ayla has introduced patented technology called Local OTA (Local Over-the-Air) update to help mitigate the impact of a device bricking. Local OTA provides a solution to return a bricked device to full functionality and does this without a costly customer support call. Additionally, Local OTA reduces the chance of a device becoming bricked in the first place.

How Does Local OTA Work?

The solution is buried deep in patent US 10,990,376 awarded to Ayla Networks in 2021. Here is how Local OTA works.

A smart device is typically connected to the Internet through a wireless network such as Wi-Fi. Firmware or software updates are downloaded from the Internet as needed. However, if a device becomes disabled, it no longer communicates via Wi-Fi, then the required firmware to fix the device is not accessible because the Internet cannot be reached. The device becomes a brick.

Ayla Local OTA solves this problem by taking advantage of an alternative communication interface, such as Bluetooth. Bluetooth being a simple protocol, is often available, even if other network interfaces are disabled.

Local OTA leverages the end-user’s smartphone as a conduit and temporary storage buffer between the Internet and the smart device’s Bluetooth interface. Executing on the smartphone, Local OTA matches the unique ID of the smart device with available firmware updates on the Internet. The matching firmware update is securely transferred from the Internet into the smartphone. When the smart device is ready, the firmware is transferred from the phone into the smart device over the Bluetooth interface.

This process is invisible to the end-user during routine firmware updates or security patches. More impressively, if a smart device becomes bricked, the user can manually initiate the firmware update process through the mobile app, and get the smart home device up and running again – with no need of customer care’s assistance.

The architecture of Local OTA as described in patent US 10,990,376
Figure. The architecture of Local OTA as described in patent US 10,990,376

As a manufacturer, you can minimize customer support costs and avoid customer grief by leveraging Ayla’s Local OTA technology. To make integration simple, Ayla can enable Local OTA directly into Ayla’s 5-star mobile app, which developers can use off-the-shelf, or use as a quick start to their own app development. Millions of IoT devices are already protected by Ayla’s Local OTA technology.


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