At home, my family has designated me their de facto IT help desk. One of my biggest pain points? Slow Wi-Fi. Between my sons’ YouTube streaming, my wife’s Web browsing and my online meetings, we can put a lot of strain on our local network and router. That’s why I was eager to talk to Gary Key, Sr. Technical Marketing Manager at ASUS, about how they are changing the game in home networking with their new smart Wi-Fi router called Blue Cave. It offers the advanced connectivity needed for today’s connected homes and tomorrow’s smart homes and looks like no other router in the marketplace. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: Why should a router purchase be top of mind for today’s consumers?
Gary: We are bringing more and more connected devices into our homes, from computers and entertainment, to security and climate control devices connected to home networks. The average home has between 10–20 connected devices, and that number is expected to increase to 35–50 by 2020. We are also bringing more connected activities into our lives — from immersive PC gaming and 4K streaming to emerging use cases, like virtual reality. All of this puts stress on the home network, and older home infrastructure can become a bottleneck that limits bandwidth to connected devices.
A Wi-Fi router is the central connectivity hub in the home, but unfortunately, it’s also the device people most frequently neglect to upgrade. To get high-quality experiences on connected devices, you need a home network that can keep up, now and in the future.
Q: The ASUS Blue Cave smart Wi-Fi router looks substantially different than conventional routers. Can you give us some insights into the benefits of its design?
Gary: Conventional Wi-Fi routers really aren’t much to look at, for the most part. They generally have lots of antennas, and their black plastic housings with blinking LED lights can stand out against decor in the home — and not in a good way. As a result, Wi-Fi routers get stuffed into closets or under the counter, where performance can be compromised.
With Blue Cave, ASUS completely rethought what a router should be. These devices don’t belong in closets anymore. Take some of the newest personal assistants, for example. Those devices incorporate sleek designs and are meant to be out in the open, where we can use them. In the connected home, a router needs to fit into lifestyle aesthetics while delivering top performance. Blue Cave does away with the blinking LEDs, antennas and boring black box, and instead features two brightness settings and a compact, attractive design.
Q: How does Intel’s connected home technology enhance the capabilities of the Blue Cave router?
Gary: In many of today’s routers, Wi-Fi throughput degrades as more devices connect to the router and more bandwidth-intensive applications are used. The advantage of the Intel® Home Wi-Fi Chipset — which is used in the Blue Cave router — is that it allows up to 128 devices to connect and share bandwidth simultaneously. Even as you connect more devices, the Wi-Fi chipset helps the router keep pace and still deliver consistent throughput to the connected devices. With the ability to support such a large number of connected devices, the router can grow with people’s digital lifestyles. Intel’s Wi-Fi chipset also offers excellent interference rejection from sources like microwaves, baby monitors or emergency services vehicles, and also helps Blue Cave steer clients to the frequency band — either 5GHz or 2.4GHz — that will deliver the best user experience.
Q: What security features are built into the router to protect devices on the home network?
Gary: Blue Cave has some of the most advanced security features available on home Wi-Fi routers today. ASUS AiProtection does deep scanning on every packet that is processed through the router, whether opened or not, which makes it more difficult for viruses and hackers to penetrate the home network. The ability to scan every packet is thanks in part to Intel® technology. Since the wireless functionality is fully offloaded to the Intel Home Wi-Fi Chipset, the Intel® AnyWAN™ SoC — the primary compute engine in Blue Cave — is freed up for software and security functions. This dedicated bandwidth allows ASUS AiProtection to scan every single packet, whereas most conventional router security features only have enough bandwidth to just process packets that are opened and used.
Q: Can you describe the intelligence that Blue Cave has integrated to offer insights into the home?
Gary: Blue Cave was designed with IFTTT integration to make sure we’re looking ahead 3–5 years into smart home progression. Intelligent routers are an essential foundation for smart homes, and we’re starting to see smart home control and insights via IFTTT recipes being established as the new norm. We also added a new feature called Home Insights, which is part of the ASUS AiProtection security suite. Home Insights allows you to not only monitor, but control very specific aspects of Internet use from devices on your network. Other routers can toggle Internet access on and off. Blue Cave offers additional control, such as blocking things like games, video sites or instant messaging, and can control how apps access the Internet while still allowing users to visit general sites.
Q: Can you give some examples of how having an IFTTT-enabled router can help support automated smart home workloads?
Gary: IFTTT is incredibly powerful software that allows users to connect apps they love and create recipes that allow apps to function together. One great example is using the presence of a specific IP address to trigger certain functions. You could create an IFTTT recipe that would turn on the lights in your home or adjust the HVAC system when your device is present. You could also enable voice control via Amazon Alexa and ask Alexa to perform a router function, like blocking access to the Internet, during a particular time, such as dinner. The great thing about IFTTT is that it’s totally customizable, so individual users can create their own recipes that help optimize their smart home for their own personal needs.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about how ASUS Parental Control allows for easy monitoring and control of each family member’s Internet and app usage?
Gary: ASUS Parental Control with Family Overview allows you to control when, and for how long, a device on your home network can connect to the Internet. For example, if your family is having dinner, you can turn off Internet access for your children’s devices so they will be more engaged at the table. It also allows control over access to online content for each device on the network. You can set usage and device-specific parameters to control how and when each family member can access online content. The Family Overview feature also allows you to filter online content and set parameters for viewing. Additionally, the IFTTT software allows the router to send alerts when certain parameters are met. For example, if there’s a list of sites you want to monitor, you can create an IFTTT recipe that sends you an SMS or email alert when devices on your home network try to access those sites.
For more information on connected smart homes, visit intel.com/smarthome. To stay informed about Intel IoT developments, subscribe to our RSS feed for email notifications of blog updates, or visit intel.com/IoT, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.