Bluetooth is two decades old and inhabits more than 20 billion circuits – this is phenomenal growth. Did you know that smart-phone vendors no longer support classic Bluetooth? It has been replaced by new BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). As somebody who has been involved in this technology since its conception, I can provide you with some insight into how this works.
If we agree that any random gadget with just buttons, LEDs and a display with little or no intelligence has no way of exchanging data unless hard-wired, and that remote diagnostics are impossible, then companies will be initially reluctant to add BLE, assuming that it will be both more complex and expensive.
In the short term, i.e. the first six months, they may be correct. However, fast forward couple of years and compare your competencies with your competitor, what would you say if their product is connected to a mobile app and indirectly doing all the sales and marketing job? Android, iOS and Windows phones or tablets have immense computing power, vibrant colour, ample memory and internet connection to share information. Can you imagine the direct interface with your client if you could utilise this technology?
Those already using BLE will agree that a tiny BLE radio is a bridge between a bland circuit board and an intelligent business model. They may reveal that actually adding BLE is not a cost but a benefit, and win-win situation for all. For example, a BLE module can be a penny cheaper than the cost of LCD display and buttons. The secret is not just in the lower BOM cost; the real treasure is in the sales. Thanks to enhanced functionality and increased popularity with this technology, customers are willing to pay a little extra.
Adding BLE is simpler than you think. The module occupies space smaller than a nano-SIM and works with UART or SPI. Proteus-III BLE5.1 uses a powerful nRF52840 chip from Nordic Semi. Proteus BLE is ready to use out of box, pre-loaded with all the stacks, security and user firmware. Simple Arduino, STM32 and PIC examples with full SDK are on the GitHub. An app developer can get the source codes for iOS and Android. SmartCommander is great GUI to speed-up the learning curve and works best with a wireless USB Stick or mini evaluation board.
This is aimed for global audience and compliant with CE, RED, UKCA, FCC, IC and even ARIB. The command interface is only five bytes and can be used in transparent mode with no programming headache. It can handle heavy payload up to 964 bytes, gross speed of 2mbps and a built-in smart antenna can range nearly half a kilometre. Standby power consumption is in nano amps. On board GPIOs can be used without an external MCU.
Engineers who want to develop a mesh in stealth mode then check Setebos-I, a giant leap in BLE technology with 600m range and can switch between BLE or Proprietary radio protocols. It’s relaxing to know that data encryption and radio front-end is handled automatically. Samples are free of cost across the world and Würth Electronics provides absolutely free technical support for any one.
Engineers and buyers of smart businesses deals directly with the manufacturer. They demand long-term availability over 10+ years, stock security and fixed pricing over 18 months. They expect 1:1 technical support, available 24h with local sales representatives. Furthermore, they expect modules made locally whilst getting the lowest overseas prices.
Watch the seminar entitled ‘0 To 100% BLE and Mesh in 40 minutes‘ from Hardware Pioneers Max 21.
– Gopi Patel, Field Application Engineer, Würth Elektronik Group –