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Posts Tagged ‘ble’

SKIIN Smart Underwears Support Energous’ WattUp Near, Mid, and Far-Field Wireless Charging

January 9th, 2018 1 comment

Near-field wireless charging has been around for several years, but for wireless charging to become really disruptive it needs to work at a distance, and Energous has been working on mid and far-field technology with their WattUp transmissive to charge devices respectively on the desk (mid-field) or in the room (far-field).

You need to have compatible devices to work with the technology, and wearables are a prime target, but I was expecting fitness trackers or smartwatches to embed the technology at first, but instead one of the first WattUp compatible wearables are smart underwears from SKIIN.

The module found in SKIIN underwears and bras have many of the same features as your typical fitness tracker, and some extras:

  • Sensors
    • ECG sensors for Heart Rate monitoring (HRM)
    • Accelerometer and Gyroscope to measure motion & posture
    • BIA (Bioelectrical impedance analysis) to monitor water intake levels and how your sweat affects your hydration, as well as you body fat levels
    • Knitted Strain Gauge to understand how your breathing patterns fluctuate throughout the day.
    • On-board temperature chip that can detect changes in your skin with 0.5 degree accuracy.
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth LE with 5 meters range
  • Battery – Good for 24 hours after a 5 hours charge
  • Dimensions – 45 x 25 mm

The module is said to run Body OS, and can synchronize with Android or iOS smartphone using the upcoming SKIIN mobile app. The module will ship with a WattUp near-field transmitter, but the technology inside can also support future WattUp Mid Field and Far Field transmitters, meaning eventually you’ll be able to throw your underwear on the bed or the laundry bag, and they will charge wirelessly.

Women and men’s smart underwear and smart bra can be pre-ordered on SKIIN website for $279 and up with shipping scheduled for this summer.

Energous technology is also currently being showcased at CES 2018 on hearing aids from Delight and SK Telesys that are planned to launch in H2 2018 in Asia first, and then the US. WattUp relies on Dialog Semi conductor solutions which has announced the DA4100 WattUp wireless power transmitter SoC and DA2200/DA2210 RF-to-DC receiver ICs that will enabled mid-field wireless charging.

DA4100 Block Diagram

Garmin Launches Vivofit 4 Activity Tracker with One Year Battery Life

December 28th, 2017 2 comments

I have not spent much time covering wearables like smartwatches and fitness trackers this year, mostly because I find they have too many flaws at this stage. Back in 2016, I found many had a short life time, they would just stop working after a few weeks or months, even the fairly popular Xiaomi Mi Band 2 only lasted 2 months after an ill-fated firmware upgrade. In my case, I also found activity / fitness trackers did not have the motivating factor I thought they’d have, so I don’t think I exercise more or less with one. Finally, another annoyance is that most need to be charged every couple of days or weeks, and I’m frequently leaving the one I’m still using (SH09) run out of battery, losing recent data.

The best solution to address the latter issue would be some type of energy harvesting, so that we would never need to charge the device ever again. It does exist thanks to Matrix PowerWatch harvesting energy from your body heat, but it can only be used for the simplest of devices, and implementation into more devices in uncertain in the near future. Another promising technology that will become available later this year thank to companies such as PowerCast or Energous are mid-field (1 meter / desk) and far-field (several meters / room) wireless transmitters/chargers, which should be good enough to keep your compatible wearables and other accessories charged at all times.

But while waiting for those new developments to come to market, we have to find the efficient devices with long battery life, and one of the them is the just released Garmin Vivofit 4 activity tracker that promises over one year of battery life.

Key features / specifications:

  • Display – 11x11mm sunlight-visible, transflective, 8-color display with 88×88 resolution
  • Memory – 4 weeks of activity data
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth Smart and ANT+
  • Sensors – Accelerometer
  • Battery – 2x SR43 user-replaceable batteries good for about a 1 year
  • Strap dimensions –  19 mm (width) x 9.4 mm (thickness);  Circumference (small/medium): 122-188 mm | (large): 148-215 mm
  • Weight – ~25 g
  • Water rating – Swim

The device supports the usual clock/alarm/timer/stopwatch functions, as well as activity tracking features such as step counter, estimated distance and calories burned, and sleep monitoring. It can pair with iOS or Android smartphones, and is compatible with Garmin Connect Mobile.

As a swim- and shower-safe device, Vivofit 4 can be worn at all times, and long battery life is achieved thanks to periodic synchronization, instead of continuous synchronization.

Vivofit 4 can be purchased for $79.99 on Amazon. Visit the product page for further details.

Via Liliputing

Categories: Android, Hardware Tags: ant, ble, bluetooth, garmin, wearables

Obniz ESP32 Board is Programmable in JavaScript from the Cloud (Crowdfunding)

December 21st, 2017 No comments

ESP32 WiFi / Bluetooth boards are now commonly supported by the Arduino IDE, and alternative firmwares are also available to program them using JavaScript (e.g. Espruino), or MicroPython. But if are familiar with JavaScript / Node.js, and don’t want to flash your own firmware, Obniz board could be an option.

The board exposes 12 I/Os programmable from the company’s Cloud service, and features a OLED display used to show your program information, or a QR code to easily program the board from your smartphone’s browse once a WiFi connection has been setup.

Obniz hardware specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP-WROOM-ESP32 based on  ESP32 dual core 802.11 b/n/g WiFi + Bluetooth LE WiSoC
  • Display – 128×64 OLED display
  • I/Os
    • 12x I/O pins each configurable as GPIO, ADC, UART, SPI or I2C (no specialized pin, each can handle those functions)
    • Up to 1A drive per I/O to control motors
    • 3.3 or 5V selectable for each I/O
    • Short protection
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

You’d program the board directly inside your web browser using JavsScript in Obniz cloud, and the company also provide a parts library in JavaScript. A REST or Websocket APIs are also provided, so you could control or program the board with curl, Switch or Node.js.

Tokyo based CambrianRobotics has launched the solution on Kickstarter with the goal of raising 1.5 million JPY (~$13,200 US). A super early bird pledge of ~$26 should get your Obniz board in March 2018. If you’ve miss all early bird rewards, the required pledge amount rises to about $42. Other rewards include a robot kit, basic & ultra kits. Shipping adds about $4.40 to Japan, and up to $17.60 to the rest of the world.

RAK Wireless Introduces LoRa + BLE Module, LoRa GPS Tracker, and NB-IoT/eMTC Arduino Shield

December 9th, 2017 1 comment

We’ve previously covered several products from RAK Wireless, including RAK WisCam Arduino compatible Linux camera, RAK CREATOR Pro Ameba RTL8711AM WiFi IoT board, and WisCore modular development kit for application leveraging voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa.

AFAIK, the company had not released any new products since their RAK831 LoRa gateway module launched last summer, but they just contact me with the release of three new wireless products, namely RAK813 BLE + LoRa module, RAK811 LoRa tracker board, and WisLTE NB-IoT/eMTC/eGPRS Arduino shield.

RAK813 BLE + LoRa module & Development Board

Main features and specifications:

  • Connectivity
    • LoraWAN via Semtech SX127x (LoRa) chipset
      • Frequency Ranges
        • 433MHz, 470MHz
        • FCC Frequency range 902~928MHz
        • CE Frequency range 863~870MHz
        • MIC Frequency range 920~928MHz
        • KCC Frequency range 920~923MHz
      • Receiver Sensitivity: LoRa down to -146 dBm
      • TX Power – adjustable up to +14 dBm, max PA boost up to 20dbm
      • Range – Up to 15 km in rural area, up to 5 km in urban area
      • u.FL antenna connector
    • Bluetooth 5 via Nordic Semi nRF52832 SoC, u.FL antenna connector
  • 33 castellated holes with up to 13x GPIO, 1x UART, 1x I2C, 1x SPI, 3x ADC, SWD, GND, VDD (LoRa/BLE), and antenna pins
  • Power – 3.3V DC input; consumption down to 2uA in sleep mode
  • Dimensions – 27.20 x 23 x 1.7 mm

Bear in mind that while nRF52832 SoC support Bluetooth 5, it does not support long range mode. The module is expected to be used  for environment monitoring, parking systems, smart cities, asset / personnel positioning, smoke alarms, industrial monitoring and control, and other remote battery powered applications.

In order to get you started before you design your own baseboard, the company also provide WisLoRaB-RAK813 Arduino compatible board with external antenna connectors, micro USB port for power programming, and a reset button. Documentation now is limited as we can only download the hardware datasheets for the module and board.

The module is sold for $14.90 on Aliexpress, with only 868MHz and 915 MHz models available right now, and the development board goes for $19.90 plus shipping, again with the same frequency range models.

RAK811 LoRa Tracker Board

Specifications:

  • Connectivity – LoRaWAN Version V1.0.2 via RAK811 module based on STM32L151 MCU and Semtech SX1276 LoRa chip; SMA connector for antenna
  • Location – GPS/GLONASS via Ublox MAX-7Q GPS Module, u.FL antenna connector
  • Expansion – 2x 10-pin with I2C, GPIOs, SWD, GND, VCC (3.3V)
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for charging and debugging
  • Battery – Optional 2200mAh rechargeable battery good for 2 years (depending on use)
  • Dimensions – 54mm x 22mm x17mm with antenna connector
  • Temperature Range – -20°C ~ 60°C

There’s also a RAK811 SensorNodeBoard with the same features minus GPS.

Documentation looks pretty good here, as beside the datasheet, we can download the user manual, schematics, etc.., and source can be found in Github with CoIDE  or Keil5 tools supported..

RAK811 TrackerBoard is sold with LoRa and GPS antennas, a micro USB port, some jumper cables, jumpers, and battery for $29.99 plus shipping on Aliexpress with two models for 868 MHz or 915 MHz bands.

WisLTE NB-IoT/eMTC/eGPRS Arduino Shield

Specifications:

  • Wireless Module – Quectel BG96 with Cat.M1 (eMTC) / Cat LTE NB1 (NB-IoT) & EGPRS connectivity, GNSS support (GPS)
  • Antennas – 2x u.FL antenna connector for LTE and GNSS
  • SIM card slot on back of the board
  • Expansion
    • Arduino UNO compatible headers with UART, 1x I2C, 2x ADC, etc…
    • UART switch pin (blue header)
  • USB – micro USB port for power and debugging, 1x USB host port
  • Misc – Reset and power buttons, USB boot jumper, serial voltage selection (3.3V or 5V)

I had heard about BC95 NB-IoT module before, but I think it may be the first time I come across BG96 module, and beside adding EGPRS and Cat M1, is also adds GPS positioning, a USB interface, I2C, one extra UART interface, and one extra ADC interface. NB-IoT uplink and download data rate are also a little higher than in BC95.

The company provides a getting started guide while connected to a PC, and BG96 AT command sets documentation on their website, but AFAICT there’s no code in their Github account, like Arduino libraries to easily use the shield. I did find another user, probably a beta tester, that wrote an Android Things driver for WisLTE.

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If you are interested in the board, WisLTE is sold for $39.90 plus shipping on Aliexpress.

ESP32-PICO-KIT v4 Board Based on ESP32-PICO-D4 SiP Now Available for $10

December 7th, 2017 2 comments

A little while ago, I received a bunch of ESP32 PICO Core development boards which were based on Espressif Systems ESP32-PICO-D4 system-in-package with ESP32, 4MB SPI Flash, and other components. The advantage of such chip is that is requires less external component, and allows for smaller designs. For example, the boards I received would leave two row of pin on each side of the board, while most other ESP32 boards will only expose one row on each side.

I used the board to play with Micropython ESP32 port, and later-on when I launched a giveaway of 8 of the boards, I found out the name had changed to ESP32-PICO Kit, with the documentation listing v3 with all pins connected to male headers, and v4 with 6-pin not connected to a male header as shown in the photo below. Both versions of the board also have a different pin layout. But you don’t need to care since AFAIK v3 was never up for sale.

ESP32-PICO-KIT v4 however has now just launched, and Electrodragon offers it for $10 plus shipping.

Board specifications:

  • SiP – ESP32-PICO-D4 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth LE system-in-package
  • 3D antenna
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and programming;  CP2102 USB-TTL Serial Bridge
  • Expansion – 2x 20-pin headers with I/O and power signals. 2x 17-pin male headers soldered
  • Misc – EN and Boot buttons, on board power indicator LED.
  • Power regulator – AMS1117 3.3V regulator
  • Auto reset circuit
  • Dimensions – 51 x 20 mm

This board can be used like any other ESP32 board with ESP32 IDF SDK, Arduino Core, Micropython, and so on, it’s just narrower than most.

Other ESP32-PICO-D4 based boards have been launched such ESP32-PICO motherboard sold for $16 on Tindie, or TTGO T7, recently discovered by Time4EE, that can be purchased for $8.50 plus shipping on Aliexpress. The latter is however quite wider than the official Espressif devkit (estimated dimensions: 50×30 mm), but does provide a battery connector

TTGO T7

Standard ESP32 boards can now be purchased for as low as $5, so boards based on the SiP are currently a little bit more expensive, but I’d expect the price difference to come down overtime.

Amazon FreeRTOS Released for NXP, Texas Instruments, STMicro, and (soon) Microchip Microcontrollers

December 2nd, 2017 7 comments

FreeRTOS is an open source real-time operating system for microcontrollers released under an MIT license, and when it comes to adoption in embedded systems it’s right there near the top with embedded Linux according to Aspencore 2017 embedded markets study. For example, some Espressif SDKs for ESP8266 or ESP32 are based on FreeRTOS, and so is Mediatek LinkIt Development Platform for RTOS.

The recently announced Amazon FreeRTOS (a:FreeRTOS) leverages the open source operating systems, and extends it with with libraries that enable local and AWS cloud connectivity, security, and soon over-the-air updates. a:FreeRTOS is free of charge, open source, and available today.

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In order to get started, you’ll have a choice of 4 hardware platforms:

  • STMicro STM32L4 Discovery Kit IoT Node (B-L475E-IOT01A) powered by STM32L475 ARM Cortex-M4 MCU with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, RF (868 / 915 MHz), and NFC connectivity, plenty of sensors

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  • Texas Instruments SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3220SF LaunchPad development kit (CC3220SF-LAUNCHXL) with  CC3220SF single-chip WiFi microcontroller (MCU) with 1MB Flash, 256KB of RAM.

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  • Microchip Curiosity PIC32MZ EF Development Board (Amazon FreeRTOS support coming soon) powered by PIC32MZ EF MCU (415 DMIPS) with 2 MB Flash, 512 KB RAM, integrated FPU, crypto accelerator, and connectivity via an on-board 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi module, and two MikroBUS connector for add-on boards.

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If you don’t own any of those boards, or don’t plan to purchase one, but still would like to play with a:FreeRTOS you could run the Windows Simulator instead.

Once we’ve selected our hardware platform (or simulator), we can access Amazon FreeRTOS console to configure and download the FreeRTOS kernel and software libraries for our application.  Development of the application is done though the tools provided for the board for example TI Code Composer Studio, STM32 System Workbench, IAR Embedded Workbench, or Visual Studio Community Edition.

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Amazon FreeRTOS is free as in speech and free as in beer, with the source code and links to documentation available in Github. Amazon will make money when you utilize AWS services such as AWS IoT Core, data transfer, or AWS Greengrass. The price list of AWS services that may be charged (if enabled) while using Amazon FreeRTOS can be found here.

HackaBLE Board is a Tiny, Breadboard-Friendly Bluetooth LE Development Board

November 18th, 2017 5 comments

Earlier this year, I wrote about Electronut Labs’ Bluey development board powered by Nordic Semi nRF52832 development board with BLE, NFC, and a few sensors, and partially open source hardware with the KiCAD schematics and PCB layout available on Github.

The company is now back with another open source hardware nRF52832 BLE board, namely hackaBLE, that’s much smaller (28x18mm), and with 2.54mm pitch castellated pin headers making suitable for use for breadboard, or as a module on a custom designed board.

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hackaBLE board specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic Semi nRF52832 ANT + BLE ARM Cortex-M4 @ 64 MHz processor with 512kB flash, 64kB RAM
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.2/5 LE and other proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless standards via chip antenna
  • Expansion
    • 2x 9-pin castellated headers with GPIO, 5V, 3.3V, and GND
    • 2x 5-pin solder pads for more I/Os
  • Debugging – 4-pin SWD header
  • Misc – RGB LED, and user button
  • Power Supply – 5 V via VDD or Vin pin.

The company explains “hackaBLE use offers more value than just using the BLE module directly – since it incorporates the necessary passive components – including the ones for the buck converter for power saving – and adds an RGB LED and a button for convenience. It’s also much easier to solder than the bare modules.”. More details, including the KiCAD schematics and PCB layout can be found on Github, as well as the PCB footprint for the board for those who plan on making a custom board.

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The company can also provide PogoProg board with 4 pogo pins to program the board through the SWD header, Bumpy SWD debugger, and snapVCC board outputting 5V/3.3V from a 9V battery.

hackaBLE can be purchased from Tindie for $20, and you could also get the $44 premium devkit with hackaBLE and the three boards mentioned and pictured above.

Giveaway Week – ESP32 PICO Kit v3 Boards

November 1st, 2017 240 comments

I don’t have one, but eight boards to give away to four winners (2 each) with Espressif Systems ESP32 PICO Kit v3 board based on ESP32-PICO-D4 SIP, an all-in one package with ESP32, 4MB SPI flash, crystal oscillator, and passive components, which allows for smaller boards.

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The board is very similar to any other ESP32 boards, and software compatible, but it’s just quite thinner, and easier to work with on breadboards. Since I had already played with Arduino Core and Espruino (JavaScript) on other boards, I used one of the 10 boards provided by Espressif to play with Micropyhon on ESP32.

Each winner will get two ESP32 PICO Core board in order to make it worthwhile with regards to shipping costs.

To enter the draw simply leave a comment below. Other rules are as follows:

  • Only one entry per contest. I will filter out entries with the same IP and/or email address.
  • Contests are open for 48 hours starting at 10am (Bangkok time) every day. Comments will be closed after 48 hours.
  • Winners will be selected with random.org, and announced in the comments section of each giveaway.
  • I’ll contact the winners by email, and I’ll expect an answer within 24 hours, or I’ll pick another winner.
  • Shipping
    • $4 for registered airmail small packet for oversea shipping payable via Paypal within 48 hours once the contest (for a given product) is complete.
    • If Paypal is not available in your country, you can still play, and I’ll cover the cost of sending the parcel by Sea and Land (SAL) without registration if you win.
  • I’ll post all 10 prizes at the same time, around the 8th of November
  • I’ll make sure we have 10 different winners, so if you have already won a device during this giveaway week, I’ll draw another person.

Good luck!

The boards above are not for sale yet, but the similar ESP32-PICO motherboard is sold for $16 on Tindie. Alternatively, you could contact Espressif Systems, if you are interested in getting ESP32 PICO Core samples.