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Silicon Labs develops Bluetooth module for IoT

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Renesas? iBeacon? Bluetooth? IoT? module?

Semiconductor companies aimed at wireless IoT in the home and consumer wearable applications believe that it is not the underlying silicon, but tools and building blocks that will emerge as leaders of the market. In the past few months a number of general programming frameworks for IoT have been developed by companies such as Freescale, Silicon Labs and Texas Instruments. Recently, Renesas developed its Synergy API toward that end. Even Intel has tried its hand with the Firmware Engine.

But Silicon Labs thinks something more is needed in the highly competitive Bluetooth segment of the market. ABI Analytics estimates that the market for Bluetooth will increase by almost 20 per cent over a five-year period from 2014-2019 due to its use not only in cell phones and a variety of desktop/laptop apps, but in such things as toothbrushes, light bulbs, yoga mats, baseball bats, shoe insoles, lawnmowers and a variety of other Bluetooth Low Energy applications.

Silicon Labs' Bluegiga subsidiary has just introduced a hardware/software combination in its BT121 Bluetooth Smart Ready module that it thinks will deal with the needs of developers in this segment, including fast turnaround. On the hardware side, Joseph Tillison, field engineering manager at Silicon Labs, said the company has done everything its engineers could think of to provide connectivity to not only legacy devices that support only Bluetooth traditional basic and extended (BR/EDR) data rate devices, but next-gen Bluetooth Smart designs as well.

Bluetooth module

Silicon Labs has ARMed its Bluetooth module for both classical and low energy Bluetooth applications.

"There is a significant opportunity in the millions of legacy smart phones, tablets and PCs still in service that do not support Bluetooth Smart technology. On top of that some applications require the higher throughput advantages of Bluetooth Classic technology, which Bluetooth Smart is not designed to achieve," Tillison said.

In the BT121 module SiLabs has tried for a best-of-both-worlds compromise between ultra-low-power and high-data-rate Bluetooth connectivity applications. The module can connect to legacy devices that support only Bluetooth SPP or Apple iAP2 profiles, for example, as well as to devices that support Bluetooth Smart.

Incorporated into an 11mm x 14mm surface-mount package, the BT121 module includes a high-performance Bluetooth radio with an extended range of up to 400m and a low-power ARM MCU. It also includes a fully certified Bluetooth Smart Ready protocol stack. Tillison said the module is not only capable of six basic and extended Bluetooth data rate connections, it can also handle seven Bluetooth low energy connections along with a standard Bluetooth connection.

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