Miniaturise your Internet of Things product with Redpine Signals’ M2MCombo SoC

June 27, 2015

Reducing the power and physical size of chipsets required for new and existing Internet-of-Things devices is a common goal shared by our customers and engineers – and a new SoC from Redpine Signals fits the bill.

Their RS9113 “M2MCombo” chipset is a system-on-chip which offers the convergence of low-power dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi networking together with dual-mode Bluetooth 4.0 and ZigBee connectivity all in a single chip – offering a powerful and nearly universal wireless communications platform for IoT and machine-to-machine applications.

This is particularly valuable for M2M and Internet-of-Things applications where a compact and cost-effective solution with minimum bill-of-materials cost is desired while also implementing a combination of Bluetooth, ZigBee and Wi-Fi communications – for example in network gateways in home automation or smart energy applications that are aggregating data from a number of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ZigBee devices around the home.

The Redpine “M2MCombo” platform leverages and improves upon the proven low-power innovations in Redpine’s Lite-Fi products, providing a powerful three-in-one Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and ZigBee convergence solution for integration into mobile and wireless devices.

With the rapid proliferation of different networking protocols in the fast-growing Internet-of-Things and M2M industry, manufacturers of wireless devices need cost-effective wireless connectivity solutions to remain competitive in the market, and bringing together several different wireless communication protocols in a single-chip solution helps to make that possible.

Furthermore the M2MCombo solution from Redpine not only provides a compact and cost-effective solution where these multiple communications protocols are required, but also speeds up the product development lifecycle by taking care of the engineering challenges around the coexistence of multiple different RF platforms in the same 2.4 GHz band.

The difficulty of making three separate radios play nicely close to each other is removed, while reducing size, power consumption and cost at the same time, enabling you to get on with product development without much specialist RF engineering.

The RS9113 M2MCombo chipset integrates a four-threaded processor along with RAM and ROM in a fully self-contained solution, with the capacity to run its TCP/IP stack and the Wi-Fi security supplicant locally on the radio chipset.

This means that the host microcontroller and its resources are not carrying the load of hosting the network stack or any other components, allowing a cheaper and lower-power host microcontroller to be chosen in power-sensitive and cost-sensitive IoT applications.

As a convergence device, the RS9113 supports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 Enhanced Data Rate, Bluetooth 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0 and ZigBee, and maintains wireless connections on some or all of these interfaces simultaneously – making it ideal for multiple-protocol gateway or network bridge applications.

The SoC provides virtually simultaneous multiple-protocol connectivity across these different radios; a valuable feature for a broadly compatible IoT networking platform, which can be deployed quickly in legacy network environments as well as new network environments.

For example – a network gateway appliance implemented with the RS9113 could communicate with a fitness or medical sensor device that uses single-mode Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, a smartphone with Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and a home automation device with ZigBee connectivity – all at the same time, and without the need for multiple different radio modules from different vendors in the gateway unit, all trying to coexist on the same RF spectrum, adding cost, adding size, power consumption and RF coexistence challenges.

And with its highly efficient Power Management Unit, integrated analogue peripherals and support for a variety of digital peripherals – the RS9113 enables very cost-effective solutions for embedded wireless, M2M and Internet-of-Things applications using a combination of Wi-Fi, ZigBee or Bluetooth.

An IoT-enabled product can be designed around the chipset, with relatively few external components needed – generally few or no analog peripherals, power management peripherals, or other RF and wireless connectivity chipsets or modules are required, depending on your exact application.

Development of RS9113 based IoT solutions is made easier by the accompanying OneBox embedded software framework from Redpine. OneBox supports WiFi station or AP, Wi-Fi Direct, ZigBee and dual-mode Bluetooth 4.0 communications – all based around a common API, on a range of host platforms and different embedded operating system options.

The software package includes complete reference firmware builds, reference drivers, application profiles and a configuration GUI that can be used on Linux, Windows or Android operating systems.

Working with external devices to the RS9113 chipset is easy thanks to support for a number of different hardware host interfaces – including USB 2.0, SDIO, SPI and UART. This offers a great deal of flexibility and compatibility to designers and system integrators.

Redpine offers SDIO, SPI, UART, and USB2.0 reference designs along with software for factory-level testing and diagnostics for your product. Along with a development environment and a complete reference framework for creating connected applications using the RS9113, Redpine also offers an easy-to-use USB-interfaced hardware development kit for the chipset.

Here at the LX Group we’re really excited about the possibilities of working with Redpine’s RS9113 “M2MCombo” chipset and the resulting products that are possible. Not only do we share your passion for embedded hardware and the Internet-of-Things, our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Improving food supply chains with the Internet of Things

June 22, 2015

The potential for the Internet of Things to improve our daily lives is almost infinite, and the technology can be applied in areas that you may have never even considered.

Let’s consider the role that Internet-of-Things technologies can play in the food industry, increasing the safety of food for consumers as well as improving efficiency and reducing overheads in the industry.

Furthermore, with the potential to address food safety challenges across the whole supply chain – wireless sensor networks, cloud computing and other IoT technologies offer potential benefits in operational efficiency and logistics across the entire food industry.

From the primary producer’s field (where environmental parameters such as soil temperature may be monitored and data interpreted over time at a central server, for example, with this data being used to improve crop yield) to stock location, tracking and monitoring of the temperatures and the age of stock right through the transport and warehousing chain – the Internet of Things can be harnessed all the way from the farm to the dinner plate.

One of the most important factors ensuring food safety is adequate refrigeration and temperature control during the transport and storage of perishable food. If temperatures aren’t controlled at an optimal level, this greatly increases the chances of bacterial growth, which can be dangerous for consumers as well as contributing to spoilage and waste of stock.

Taking advantage of wireless sensors and Internet-of-Things technologies, food and transport companies can now place networks of data logging devices in warehouses and refrigerated trucks across the supply chain, allowing environmental properties such as humidity and temperature to be continuously monitored and logged.

This data logging can provide awareness immediately if there are any abnormalities such as refrigeration failures along the way which may compromise the quality or safety of the stock. If such a fault is detected action can immediately be taken to correct it, identifying the specific location where repair work is needed in the field or identifying the stock that is affected, allowing stock to be moved to an appropriate environment.

The Internet of Things also offers an unprecedented level of collaboration between multiple different companies and business units in the food industry, handling food from the farm, through processing, manufacturing and transport, until it reaches the consumer.

Networks of connected sensors can be deployed in food factories, confirming that the product has been manufactured and stored under safe environmental conditions right up to the point where it is ready to be transported.

Transport contractors can then ensure that the right temperature and environment is maintained for the food during transit, and retailers or restaurants can use sensor network intelligence to identify and track stock that is on its way – accurately predicting when it is going to arrive at its destination.

This ensures more timely deliveries and allows deliveries to be scheduled at the most efficient times when they’re needed. Once the stock has arrived at its destination, supermarkets, warehouses or restaurants can use the data from these sensors to track the stock they have in storage, the age of the food in stock and the stock level, and environmental properties such as storage temperature.

These different data sources working together all the way through the supply chain help to get the food delivered in a way that is fast and efficient whilst also helping to maintain the highest standards of product quality and food safety.

Improving product quality in the food industry with the Internet of Things goes beyond preventing bacterial growth in improperly stored food, since optimising the storage environment can greatly improve the quality and shelf life of food.

For example, blackberries can lose a full day of their shelf life for every hour they are exposed to room temperature conditions without refrigerated storage – and every day of shelf life lost corresponds to a reduction in the amount of that stock that can be sold without wastage.

Through the use of Internet-of-Things sensors, food distributors and vendors can not only improve the quality and safety of the product, they can reduce the amount of food wastage and increase profits by making sure that food stays viable on the shelves for as long as possible.

At this point the use of the Internet-of-Things with the food industry is a welcome and useful function and adds efficiency, safety and helps increase sales throughout the supply chain. And if you’re interested in applying this to your own interests – the team at LX is ready when you are.

Our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Project Brillo – Google’s development platform for the Internet of Things

June 9, 2015

During this year’s recent I/O conference, Google announced Brillo, their new operating system targeted at Internet-of-Things applications.

The Brillo OS is a derivative of Android, and be described as a streamlined and cut-down version of Android – targeted towards IoT and smart-home applications on low-power embedded devices with constrained memory and other resources.

According to Google, Brillo is an operating system for the Internet of Things that will connect devices through a communication layer called Weave, which “provides seamless and secure communication between devices, both locally and through the cloud”.

As Brillo is based on the lower levels of Android, you’re likely to be able to choose from a wide variety of hardware platforms and silicon vendors that will be compatible with the Brillo OS. With this all-in-one operating system, you can focus on building your hardware and applications – everything else you need for an end-to-end IoT solution is already built in. Furthermore, Brillo provides a Web-based console for device administration – providing update services, crash reporting and metrics for your devices and making system management inexpensive and accessible.

Brillo provides a kernel, hardware abstraction, connectivity, and security infrastructure within a limited memory footprint, which is ideal for inexpensive and smaller devices. At the time of writing the specific range of supported chipsets and hardware requirements for Brillo are currently unknown, however it has been estimated that it will run on devices with as little as 32 to 64 Mb of RAM – making it a lot more lightweight than regular Android builds.

Furthermore Brillo support is being integrated into the Google mobile platform and Google Play, so support for connectivity to Brillo-equipped devices is built-in to devices (such as smartphones) that run Android, and is easily available for iOS. Android devices will auto-detect Brillo and Weave devices.

It appears likely that Brillo will support wireless communications standards specifically relevant to the IoT market, such as Thread, on supported hardware, along with common Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications.

For device OEMs, using Brillo means you can build new devices and products quickly and securely, without having to worry about software updates. For other operating systems, you can just add a compatibility library to connect with Brillo devices over Weave.

For app developers, interoperability with Brillo and Weave can extend the reach of your apps to the physical world. You can build one app to control multiple devices in the home and work environments, leveraging Google services such as voice-control actions.

With Brillo, Google is aiming to build an operating system that device manufacturers can put on their devices to ease the process of getting a device online, manage the connectivity and many of the lower-level hardware functions that device manufacturers probably don’t want to deal with.

For end users, Brillo-based and Weave-based IoT applications give users confidence that their connected devices will work with each other, and work with different smartphones and devices. Brillo and Weave promise to make the IoT easy-to-use for end users, since automatic setup, provisioning and easy-to-use sharing is built in.

The second part of Google’s recent announcement concerns Weave – a communications framework for IoT devices that allows different devices to talk to each other. It’s a cross-platform, common language that will let Brillo devices, smartphones and Internet services all talk to each other, addressing the challenge of IoT interoperability. Weave is cross-platform, and it exposes APIs for developers, making it valuable for OEMs and app developers trying to link their cloud-based services to devices communicating with Weave.

Weave is not a separate protocol, but rather lightweight schema developers can use for standardised and interoperable communications. It provides a common language and vocabulary so that IoT devices can advertise their capabilities to other devices on the network and expose the different functions that they offer, defining certain devices and what they can do.

According to Google, “Weave promises to be “the IoT protocol for everything – from phone to device to cloud”. The idea is to create a standard way for each device in the home or building to explain to the other devices what it’s capable of and what it’s doing right now, so they can all work together as a team.

This functionality that Weave offers appears to be broadly comparable to Apple’s HomeKit system in terms of device discovery, configuration and communication – it’s basically the glue that connects together a bunch of disparate networked devices from different vendors, turning them into a rich system for automation and interoperability.

Furthermore, Google’s Weave program aims to standardise quality and interoperability across different manufacturers through a certification program that device makers must adhere to for their devices to be “Weave Compatible”.

As part of this program, Weave provides a core set of schemas that will enable apps and devices to seamlessly interact with each other. “We want to connect devices in a seamless and intuitive way, and make them work better for users”, according to Sundar Pichai’s announcement at Google I/O.

Brillo and Weave represent a key public development in Google’s offerings in the IoT and home automation market, which has been fairly quiet following last year’s acquisition of Nest Labs. The Nest thermostat and future devices in the Nest ecosystem will also use Weave, so devices from other manufacturers can easily and securely interoperate with these Nest products.

This new development from Google is highy-anticipated by all of us in the Internet-of-Things development community, and the team at LX is ready when you are. Our team of solutions architects, engineers and specialists is ready to partner with you for your success in the IoT marketplace. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


ARTIK – the new IoT platform from Samsung

June 4, 2015

Samsung has recently announced their ARTIK Internet-of-Things platform, aimed at enabling faster, simpler development of new enterprise, industrial and consumer-facing IoT applications and products. ARTIK is an open platform that includes a family of powerful integrated hardware modules, advanced software, development boards, drivers, tools, security, cloud and wireless connectivity features designed to help accelerate development of a generation of better, smarter IoT devices, solutions and services.

According to Samsung, in ARTIK they are providing the industry’s most advanced, open and secure platform for developing IoT products. By leveraging Samsung’s established full-stack expertise in embedded mobile hardware and software, RF design, silicon-level component fabrication and packaging, consumer-facing design and high-volume manufacturing. Thus Samsung’s ARTIK is well positioned to allow developers working in the Internet-of-Things space to rapidly turn great ideas into market-leading products and applications.

The platform is based around a series of hardware modules and supporting software optimised for Internet-of-Things products and similar applications, with each building-block module fitting a powerful processor, rich connectivity and robust security inside a very small package.

This includes a variety of hardware configurations tailored to meet the requirements of a wide range of IoT needs, from wearable computing and home automation to smart lighting and industrial applications. With multiple tiers of hardware allowing you to optimise performance, memory, physical footprint and cost as needed, ARTIK can scale to support a variety of applications from small battery-powered devices through to powerful network gateway appliances with storage, local processing and media capability.

Depending on the configuration, the ARTIK family supports all major wireless connectivity technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (including Bluetooth Low Energy) and 802.15.4/ZigBee. All devices in the ARTIK hardware family include multi-core ARM processors and integrated Bluetooth Low Energy wireless connectivity.

ARTIK 1, the smallest and most power efficient ARTIK module, is the smallest complete network-connected IoT compute module currently on the market, combining Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity and a 9-axis inertial measurement

unit with powerful compute capabilities and efficient power consumption all in a tiny 12mm-by-12mm package.

This module is designed specifically for low-power, small-form-factor mobile IoT applications, and can provide weeks of runtime on a single battery charge. According to Samsung, an ARTIK-based smart watch can run for three weeks on a single charge while being kept in always-on mode and paired to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.

The next model up, the ARTIK 5 – incorporates a 1 GHz dual-core processor, increased on-board DRAM and Flash memory – delivering a powerful balance of size, power efficiency, price and performance which is pitched by Samsung as being ideal for home automation hubs, high-end wearable computing applications and autonomous vehicles such as UAVs, where greater amounts of computing power and more wireless networking options are required.

The ARTIK 5 module uses Samsung’s ePoP (Embedded Package-on-Package) packaging technology to offer significant computing performance and storage capacity in a very compact form factor, enabling a broad range of size-sensitive devices and applications.

The most powerful device in the ARTIK hardware family, the ARTIK 10, is pitched at applications in home automation servers, embedded multimedia and industrial applications. It delivers high performance for IoT and embedded multimedia applications, with an eight-core ARM processor, full 1080p video encoding and decoding, 5.1 audio, and 2Gb of DRAM with 16Gb of Flash memory for plenty of media storage. It is ideal for applications with heavier local performance and storage requirements or demanding video encoding and playback needs.

The ARTIK 5 and ARTIK 10 models also include Wi-Fi, dual-mode Bluetooth support, 802.15.4/ZigBee and Thread network connectivity, making them potentially very useful as gateways or bridge devices in home automation networks, connecting together many different kinds of wireless IoT devices.

All the hardware platforms in Samsung’s ARTIK family include advanced embedded hardware security technology, on-board storage and strong processing power in an open platform.

Security is a key element of the software integrated into the platform, along with the ability to connect to the Internet for cloud-based data analytics and Web services. The ARTIK platform comes with an extensive IoT software stack and tools to help you accelerate product development.

Developers can go directly to application framework development, instead of spending time building low-level software libraries. Every ARTIK device comes pre-loaded with the Temboo software stack for connected devices, which aims to help ARTIK developers quickly and easily develop connected ARTIK-based IoT applications.

In conjunction with the Temboo website, this lets you quickly generate code for the IoT applications you’re building. To demonstrate how this can be used, Samsung has demonstrated a reference design for a smart IoT water tank monitoring system, based on Temboo and ARTIK.

Rather than spend your time writing low-level libraries, ARTIK enables you to use the ARTIK development tools and open APIs provided by Samsung to bring wearable technology, smart devices and wireless network hubs to market more quickly, cheaply and easily. ARTIK provides a platform for developers who simply want to focus on building and testing their new IoT ideas.

And with the help of our team here at LX, we can bring your IoT device product ideas to life. From the whiteboard to the white box – we’ll partner with you to for your success. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Bluetooth v4.2 – bringing improved speed and security to wireless devices

May 23, 2015

After starting from humble beginnings, the Bluetooth standard keeps improving and now the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has recently officially adopted the new Bluetooth Core Specification version 4.2.

This new specification promises improvements in the speed, security and privacy of Bluetooth networks as well as ease of IP network connectivity for Internet-of-Things applications. The new and improved features of Bluetooth 4.2 build upon the capabilities such as Bluetooth Low Energy in the Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 4.0) standard, aiming to further improve the position of Bluetooth Smart as a key enabling technology for the Internet of Things.

The SIG has emphasised “Connected Home” scenarios as being well placed to take advantage of the capability for direct Internet connectivity provided in Bluetooth 4.2, also emphasising the advantages offered by IPv6 support and higher data rates whilst also maintaining strong energy efficiency.

Bluetooth 4.2 introduces several major updates to the specification – Bluetooth Low Energy data packet length extensions, secure connections, privacy upgrades, and the IP Support Profile, which helps to enable IoT applications. Bluetooth 4.2 will extend the capabilities of Bluetooth 4.0 to allow low-power IP connectivity over Bluetooth, with the new IPSP (Internet Protocol Support Profile) Bluetooth profile which supports IPv6 and 6LoWPAN connectivity.

Bluetooth-networked edge-node devices will be able to use this to directly access the Internet via an Internet connection elsewhere in the network, without having first to be tethered to a specific smartphone or other Bluetooth-enabled device with IP connectivity.

Furthermore, Bluetooth 4.2 increases the speed and reliability of data transfers between Bluetooth Smart devices. Standard Bluetooth packets offer a maximum payload size of 1021 bytes, but in the Bluetooth 4.2 specification there are some additional header fields and a trailer added to the packet to allow for additional payload per packet, with the length of data packets transferred increased from 27 bytes to 251 bytes.

This increase in the data transfer rate corresponds to a speed increase of up to 2.6 times, compared to older Bluetooth standards. Bluetooth master and slave devices, however, will still have the ability to reduce or otherwise negotiate the maximum length of packets to transmit and receive.

These speed increases are very valuable for developers looking to create systems where the transfer of larger amounts of data over Bluetooth is required – for example regular firmware updates or the downloading of large amounts of sensor data in data logger or similar Internet-of-Things applications. Increased data transfer speeds and packet sizes in Bluetooth 4.2 also reduce the opportunity for transmission errors to occur, resulting in more efficient communication and a reduction in battery energy consumption.

Building on the speed improvements, Bluetooth 4.2 also introduces advances in security and privacy over older Bluetooth implementations, as well as lowering power consumption. For example, a department store may implement Bluetooth iBeacons to track the movements of consumers around the store, which could be considered an invasion of privacy.

Bluetooth 4.2 addresses this by allowing the MAC address of a device to be masked from other devices unless the iBeacon or other Bluetooth device being connected to is explicitly trusted, preventing this kind of tracking from occurring unless the user has enabled permission for the iBeacon to engage with their device.

Therefore devices compatible with Bluetooth 4.2 will only “wake up” when a device such as an iBeacon that is designated as trusted is within proximity. This has the added bonus of lowering power consumption on the smartphone or other Bluetooth device, since it won’t wake up from a low-power state whenever it passes near such a device – it will stay asleep by default.

The previous Bluetooth 4.1 specification introduced AES encryption, and the Bluetooth 4.2 update now completes these security upgrades by adding full public key cryptography for authentication in Bluetooth Low Energy mode using FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) compliant algorithms, essentially updating security for Bluetooth Low Energy to the same standard as Bluetooth Classic – so you can have confidence in the cryptography used.

Dual-mode Bluetooth devices now only need to pair once and they will retain the same fully secure connection, regardless of which mode was used to authenticate.

IP connectivity is also improved with 4.2, as the new Internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP) will allow Bluetooth Smart sensors to access the Internet directly via IPv6 / 6LoWPAN. IP connectivity makes it possible to use existing IP infrastructure to manage Bluetooth Smart “edge” devices, which is ideal for connected home and Internet-of-Things applications that need both local control – from local network devices such as smartphones, and wide-area control over the Internet.

IPSP is designed to enable IPv6 for Bluetooth, meaning that devices such as wireless IoT or wearable computing platforms can use Bluetooth Low Energy to talk to the Internet without the need to be paired to another device such as a smartphone or tablet to act as a bridge to the IP network.

Data can go directly to and from low-power Bluetooth devices and the Internet, as long as there is a router or access point in the home equipped with Bluetooth physical-layer hardware. This means that IPSP is arguably the biggest news about Bluetooth 4.2, particularly for IoT device development.

We’re excited about these latest developments in Bluetooth and if you’re considering a new Bluetooth-enabled product or upgrading an existing device – our team at LX can partner with you for mutual success. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


IPv6 over Bluetooth with Nordic’s new nRF51 SDK

May 13, 2015

With the advent of IPv6 taking hold in the Internet of Things, it’s pleasing to see more entrants into the marketplace from existing and new players, and one example of this is Nordic Semiconductor’s Bluetooth Low Energy nRF51 IoT SDK.

This is a new Software Development Kit for the development of Internet-of-Things applications using Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) over Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth SMART), enabling end-to-end IP-based communication for Bluetooth IoT devices.

Nordic’s SDK is an IPv6-ready complete Internet Protocol suite for their nRF51-series of devices, bringing native IPv6 support to Bluetooth Low Energy applications, letting them talk directly to cloud services and other Bluetooth-connected Internet-of-Things devices over IP-based networks.

The SDK is suitable for networks of Nordic’s nRF51x wireless connectivity systems-on-chip, offering an IPv6-capable Bluetooth Low Energy software stack that provides drivers, libraries, examples and APIs to allow you to easily get started with development – all freely ready for engineers to download now from Nordic.

Furthermore the SDK enables large-scale, distributed, cloud-connected, heterogeneous network deployments for smart home, industrial, and enterprise automation applications, logistics, access control, and cloud services – and enables wireless communication between Internet services and Bluetooth-enabled IoT “things”.

With native IP networking down to the Bluetooth end-node devices, this means that Bluetooth Low Energy devices can communicate with each other via “headless” routers and out over the Internet. A Bluetooth Low Energy device can therefore communicate with other devices using other IPv6-enabled wired or wireless networking technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or 802.15.4/6LoWPAN, to form a heterogeneous network.

Unlike some other IoT solutions based on proxy servers, proprietary network bridges or gateways, Nordic’s nRF51 IoT SDK is based entirely on open standards and extends IP addressing all the way to the end-node device.

As a reference design and demonstration platform for their Bluetooth Low Energy IoT SDK, Nordic provides their “IPv6 over Bluetooth Smart Coffee” demonstration – an example of a wireless, IPv6 Bluetooth-enabled Internet-of-Things coffee machine based on Nordic’s IoT SDK.

The coffee machine, being IP enabled, has its own IPv6 address and is directly addressable from the Internet over IPv6. Native support for IPv6 allows the coffee machine and the cloud application to use the same protocol without any need for proxy servers or translations, allowing direct connectivity to MQTT, as the application protocol, based on top of TCP at the transport layer.

The SDK includes a 6LoWPAN IPv6-over-Bluetooth Low Energy adaptation layer and a complete Internet Protocol suite – a protocol stack that includes IPv6 and ICMP, with UDP and TCP protocols supported at the transport layer, along with CoAP and MQTT support at the application layer, giving you a powerful suite of different protocols which are useful for IoT applications.

A compact memory footprint means that the complete protocol stack can be run on a nRF51-series device in a single-chip configuration without extra memory, enabling developers to minimise power, size and cost of their Bluetooth-connected IoT hardware products.

Nordic’s Bluetooth Low Energy IoT SDK also supports the Internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP), a profile which is in the process of being adopted as a standard by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

The SDK includes an IPv6 stack, including UDP socket APIs, an ICMPv6 (ping) module, and support for multiple IPv6 addresses. The included 6LoWPAN and IPSP libraries support 6LoWPAN compression and decompression, 6LoWPAN node role support, packet flow control, IPv6 prefix management, and the ability to use a third-party IPv6 stack if you choose. A CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol) library is also provided with the SDK, providing support for all the basic CoAP message types.

Complementing the SDK, Nordic is also providing examples that configure the nRF51 device as a Bluetooth Low Energy 6LoWPAN node, as well as a reference software platform for setting up a headless router that supports IPv6 and Bluetooth Low Energy using a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian Linux combined with a Bluetooth LE USB dongle, as well as a range of other application examples.

Nordic provides a reference Raspbian Linux image for this example router application which you can download, ready to go. The combination of this headless router platform, the new nRF51 Development Kit and the nRF51 IoT SDK provide developers with a powerful and complete platform for developing Bluetooth Low Energy based Internet-of-Things applications based on Nordic nRF51 series devices.

The Bluetooth Low Energy IoT SDK is suitable for use with Nordic’s nRF51 Development Kit (which supports Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT, or generic low-power 2.4 GHz wireless communications using the various different chipsets in the nRF51 family), or the nRF51 USB dongle.

The SDK is also suitable for use with the nRF51422 multi-protocol Bluetooth Low Energy / ANT system-on-chip and the nRF51822 multi-protocol Bluetooth Low Energy system-on-chip, the nRF51822 Evaluation Kit, or any other development tools or platforms from third parties, as long as they are based around the nRF51822 Bluetooth Low Energy SoC, the nRF51422, or any other devices in the nRF51 family.

Nordic provides support and community discussion for users of their platform online, through the Nordic Developer Zone forums and Web resources, nRFready demo applications for Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled phones or other mobile devices, and a range of other resources provided on their website.

Nordic’s new IPv6 system offers new and possibly existing IoT-based products the entrance into the next generation of device connectivity and as part of this the team at LX can partner with you for mutual success. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Atmel makes Wi-Fi easy with their new SmartConnect WINC1500

May 4, 2015

Atmel have announced their new SmartConnect WINC1500 SoC – a wireless network controller system-on-chip platform, specifically aimed at Wi-Fi connectivity in embedded systems and Internet-of-Things applications.

The WINC1500 is part of Atmel’s SmartConnect portfolio aimed at IoT and wireless connectivity applications, and it complements Atmel’s existing line-up of radio-plus-microcontroller RF system-on-chip solutions for wireless connectivity using 802.15.4/6LoWPAN, now offering 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN connectivity for embedded and IoT applications such as smart-home appliances, home automation, wireless media streaming or industrial applications.

By using an innovative power architecture that delivers very low power consumption along with high performance, the WINC1500 can help optimise your bill of materials, minimising the number of external components required to support your design.

Furthermore the WINC1500 is a great add-on platform to extend the wireless connectivity of existing microcontroller-based solutions, bringing Wi-Fi networking capability to an existing system through a UART or SPI interface to the Wi-Fi device.

The WINC1500 connects to any Atmel AVR or Atmel SMART microcontroller with minimal requirements for memory or other resources in the host microcontroller, and it supports different 801.11 modes including single-stream 802.11n with throughput up to 72 Mbps.

The WINC1500 provides internal Flash memory as well as multiple interfaces for peripheral devices, including UART, SPI and I2C, and it also includes a fully integrated power amplifier, LNA, RF transmit/receive switch and power management on the RF side, meaning that integration of the WINC1500 into your design is easy, without requiring large amounts of RF design expertise or a high external bill-of-materials cost to support this device.

The ATWINC1500 device can receive wired firmware updates via its UART, or over-the-air firmware updates. The device features 4 MBit of internal Flash memory for storing its firmware, and a provisioning mode for setup, where the device sends beacons as a soft Wi-Fi access point and can transmit or receive data at any time, using a system called Wireless Simple Configuration to make initial setup of your devices simpler.

The device supports Wi-Fi Direct, station mode and Soft-AP support, with support for either WEP or WPA2 Enterprise security modes, and offers an RF transmit power of +19 dBm with a low current consumption of 172 mA – relatively impressive for an 802.11 WiFi device in transmit mode.

A TCP/IP stack is provided on board, without the need for the host microcontroller to support this, along with DHCP/DNS network protocols and TLS (Transport Layer Security) support for secure communications.

The WINC1500 is available in a compact QFN package and requires only one external clock source, from a single crystal or oscillator, with a wide variety of reference clock frequencies between 12-32 MHz supported.

As well as the WINC1500 IC itself, in a 40-pin QFN package for board-level integration into your bespoke designs, Atmel also offers the ATWINC1500-MR210PA module. This module includes an on-board crystal, voltage regulators and other core support components, an RF balun, antenna matching network and an on-board antenna, along with a shielding can.

This module makes it very easy to get started integrating the WINC1500 into your design, with minimal design effort or RF layout expertise required. The ATWINC1500-MR210PA module also offers module-level pre-certification of the RF system for regulatory agencies such as the FCC, making it easier to get your product approved and to market without much RF engineering expertise.

As with Atmel’s other microcontroller products, you can easily get started evaluating and designing with the ATWINC1500 low-cost, low-power WiFi network controller by using Atmel’s starter kit for this device, the ATWINC1500-XSTK Xplained Pro platform.

This kit provides the hardware and software platform you need to get started with easy access to the features of the ATWINC1500 and explains how to integrate the device in a custom design, with an on-board embedded debugger and support in the Atmel Studio integrated development platform, with standardised compatibility with the rest of Atmel’s Xplained Pro ecosystem of development tools.

No extra tools are necessary to program or debug the host microcontroller, but the Xplained Pro development system does offer additional peripherals to extend the features of the board and ease the development of custom designs.

Included in the kit is a SAMD21 Xplained Pro board, as the host microcontroller, along with an ATWINC1500 Xplained Pro extension board, which includes an ATWINC1500-MR210PA, shielded and approved RF module and an Atmel I/01 Xplained Pro board which provides sensor inputs to the host microcontroller along with a micro-SD card.

There is an embedded debugger for programming the SAMD21 host microcontroller, Atmel’s Data Gateway Interface (DGI) for connectivity between the host microcontroller and the WiFi platform over either TWI or SPI, a USB virtual-serial-port interface to the host microcontroller’s UART for debugging, an Atmel CryptoAuthentication device connected to the host microcontroller, and a range of application examples supported through the Atmel Gallery.

Together, this development pack provides a powerful but easy-to-use combination of tools you can use to quickly get started prototyping or developing a WiFi-networked, Internet-connected sensor network device or Internet-of-Things appliance based on the WINC1500.

After the explosion of the Expressif ESP8266 into the marketplace last year, we consider this to be Atmel’s reply to the inexpensive SoC from China – and look forward to further announcements from other manufacturers with their responses. Which leads to more options in the marketplace to choose from = each with their own pros and cons to your specific application.

If your team is looking for help moving forward with your own Wi-Fi or IoT-based devices – we invite you to join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


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