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Nordic combines ANT+, Bluetooth low energy in latest SoC

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Nordic Semiconductor? system-on-chip? ANT+? Bluetooth? appcessories?

Nordic Semiconductor recently launched a multi-protocol system-on-chip (SoC) that offers concurrent ANT+, an extention of Garmin's proprietary protocol for wireless sensor networks, and Bluetooth low energy wireless communication natively in a single chip. With the nRF51922 SoC, product developers in markets like sport, wellness, healthcare, and smartphone appcessories are no longer limited to one of these previously incompatible wireless technologies.

"The nRF51922 is exactly what the ULP wireless industry needs right now," commented Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing. "It will mean product developers will no longer need to develop separate ANT+ and Bluetooth low energy product offerings, could encourage even more smartphone manufacturers to offer native ANT+ and Bluetooth low energy support, and ultimately give end users even greater choice when selecting wireless accessories and appcessories with fewer compatibility headaches. And that can only be a good thing for the ULP wireless market as a whole."

The nRF51922 is drop-in compatible with existing nRF51 series devices and features Nordic's new 'S310' SoftDevice that combines the ANT+ and Bluetooth low energy stacks in a single software framework. The S310 offers the same fully autonomous, secure, and event-driven application interface as existing Nordic SoftDevices, which includes a clean separation of protocol stacks and application firmware to greatly simplify firmware development and testing, and maximise operational reliability.

The company's latest SoC enables full flexibility in using one or both protocols concurrently in a product, enabling multi-protocol accessories and compatibility with ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart Ready hubs. This will also powerfully benefit end users who will no longer be forced to make hard choices between these two ecosystems when purchasing products.

Pin-compatible hardware and a familiar interface on the S310 for existing Nordic S110 (Bluetooth low energy) and S210 (ANT+) SoftDevice users means Nordic customers that already have an nRF51 Series ANT+ or Bluetooth low energy product will be able to keep existing hardware design and firmware unchanged, and only add needed firmware support for the new protocol stack when adopting the nRF51922.

"ANT paved the way for interoperability in ULP wireless and continues to 'set the bar' in terms of overall performance and power consumption. The sports and fitness market is totally dominated by ANT+ enabled products where everything from the familiar wireless heart-rate strap to more specialist bike power sensors can be found. And new market segments continue to open up for ANT+ wireless technology which is finding its way into an increasingly diverse range of applications."

Leonard continued: "In parallel Bluetooth low energy has attracted unprecedented interest since its arrival in 2011. With the adoption of Bluetooth v4.0 [that features Bluetooth low energy as a hallmark feature] in just about every new smartphone released today, its connectivity appeal is obvious and creating unlimited sensor and control possibilities in harmony with the ever advancing capabilities of modern smartphones."

"Millions of consumers rely on ANT+ enabled devices and this multi-protocol SoC will expand their opportunities to connect with additional smartphones, such as the iPhone," said Rod Morris, VP at ANT Wireless. "Apps and cloud-based services provide new ways for device manufacturers to engage their customers and enhance the user experience. This solution is an enabling piece to make that happen."

- Paul Buckley
??EE Times





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