Official Blog of Silicon Labs

    Publish
     
      • CES 2015: All about the Connected “Things”

        Nari | 01/16/2015 | 10:22 AM

        Most electronic companies appear to agree that smart connected devices will touch nearly every aspect of our lives. At last week’s 2015 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) small and large companies showcased different kinds of connected devices from wearables to home automation systems.

         

        zigbee-booth.png

         

        ZigBee®, the global standards-based wireless solution, introduced a wide range of smart home applications that connect devices wirelessly and intelligently. The applications include wireless accessories, fitness and health devices, and energy management system.   

         

        Lowes.png

         

        Lowe’s, the leading home improvement retail company, built a house to show how their Iris Smart Home platform works in real life and demystify home automation. Iris helps homeowners customize their home appliances without using wires.

         

        samsung-smartthings.png

         

        Home appliance giant Samsung showcased SmartThings technology that integrates their smart TVs, home appliances, and smartphones with Internet connections. During a press conference at CES, the company’s co-CEO mentioned that every product in the company’s entire catalog would be Internet connected in five years.

         

        Samsung also joined Thread Group last year with major technology companies including ARM, Big Ass Fans, Freescale Semiconductor, Nest Labs, Silicon Labs and Yale Security to create simple, secure and low-power network for home and its connected products. Learn more about the Thread Group:  http://www.silabs.com/products/wireless/Pages/thread-group.aspx

         

        CES this year was a clear indication of the investment companies are making in providing more intelligent devices to consumers. The interoperability of these connected devices will be a factor in their continued success and adoption and Skip Ashton, Vice President of Software at Silicon Labs, recently discussed what will be important to ensure all the “Things” in the Internet of Things work well together in an interview with Junko Yoshda of EE Times.

         

      • Semiconductor Temperature Sensor Accuracy

        lethawicker | 01/12/2015 | 04:19 PM

        Temperature is not something you can take chances with, particularly when you’re shipping or storing food or pharmaceuticals. It’s vital to make sure you understand all the factors that can come into play that influence the accuracy of your sensor designs. (Read on to find out more, or download the full article here.)

         

        Semiconductor temperature sensors commonly use a bandgap element which measures variations in the forward voltage of a diode to determine temperature. To achieve reasonable accuracy, these are calibrated at a single temperature point, typically 25 °C. Therefore, highest accuracy is achieved at the calibration point and accuracy then deteriorates for higher or lower temperatures. For higher accuracy across a wide temperature range, additional calibration points or advanced signal processing techniques can be employed.

         

        Manufacturers of semiconductor temperature sensors will specify typical and maximum temperature accuracy within certain temperature ranges. While typical values can give some idea of the accuracy for a few devices under ideal conditions, customers should rely on the maximum values for a true indication of accuracy across multiple devices and under a variety of conditions.

        Accuracy at 3.3V

        Power supply voltage can also affect temperature accuracy in a semiconductor sensor. Sensor devices with a lower level of internal voltage regulation will exhibit greater reductions in accuracy when the power supply deviates from nominal voltages. Most manufacturers will include this in their datasheet specifications, with maximum values in the range of ±0.2°C/V to ±0.3°C/V.

         

        In higher accuracy devices with <±0.5°C error, secondary effects will begin to emerge that can also play a role in overall accuracy. These are often specified separately from the overall accuracy specification in manufacturer’s datasheets and should therefore be added. Some of these include:

        • Repeatability/noise: This is the error introduced by the analog front end and ADC, and can range from ±0.1°C in lower performance products to ±0.01°C in higher performance products.
        • Drift/stability: Additional error introduced over time as the device ages.

        Sensor Accuracy Across VOD

        To find out more, download the full article here.

      • Silicon Labs Optical Sensors Win Electronic Products Product of the Year Award

        lethawicker | 01/08/2015 | 12:13 PM

        The word is out on Silicon Labs Si1132/4X Optical Sensors—and the word is “award-winning!” Electronic Products magazine has named our optical sensors one of their products of the year.

        What makes them so outstanding, especially for the next generation of wearable technology? Electronic Products pointed out:

        • Our sensors are the industry’s first single-chip, digital sensor ICs for measuring UV index
        • Models combine UV, infrared, and visible light sensing
        • Developers can use the sensors to monitor UV exposure as well as heart rate and blood oximetry
        • Proximity and gesture control options

        The Si1132/4x was called “outstanding” when it came to performance. Want to read more? Check them out on the Silicon Labs website or read the full article here.

         

        poyrc_silabs_jan2015.jpg

      • Stay charged with the Game Tin solar-powered handheld game console

        Nari | 01/08/2015 | 11:30 AM

        If you want a device that fully charges in seconds, can be powered by the sun, and is built to last, check out the Game Tin. Designed by our community user, @shifthack , this handheld game console features the energy-friendly EFM32 Giant Gecko microcontroller (MCU). With the Game Tin, users can play on the go at a moment’s notice by quick charging their device through USB and can stay charged by running on solar power as a harvested energy source. The Silicon Labs team recently talked with ShfitHack about what inspired him to create the Game Tin project and what his next steps will be.

         

        Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us why you developed the Game Tin?

         

        My name is Nick Palladino. I am the one-man operation behind ShiftHack. I founded ShiftHack to provide information and technology to make it easier for people to live more sustainable lives.

         

        I’ve been interested in ultracapacitors and sustainable technologies such as energy harvesting for a number of years. The inspiration for the Game Tin came from my desire to demonstrate some of the benefits of ultracapacitor-based systems as an alternative to traditional battery-based designs. The primary benefits an ultracapacitor offers are quick charging and longevity. Solar energy harvesting was added to make up for some of the shortcomings of the ultracapacitor such as limited energy density and leakage current. Personally, I wanted to get a better understanding of the design considerations for devices using ultracapacitors and solar energy harvesting.

         

        Watch the Game Tin demo video:

         

        Q: How does the Game Tin work?

         

        You have two options to charge the Game Tin. You can fully charge the ultracapacitor in 30 seconds via a USB port, enabling the Game Tin to operate without sunlight. It’s similar to charging a smartphone, although you have the advantage of charging the system in 30 seconds instead of hours. The fully charged Game Tin can then run all day (depending on the application).

         

        The other option is to use outdoor sunlight. The primary purpose of using solar power is to give users an extended operating time by keeping the device running without any power interruptions. For example, you can maintain the charge rather than running out of power while you are outside. If you want to use sunlight to charge the Game Tin, it will take about five minutes to charge it from completely empty to the state where you can start running the device, and about an hour to fully charge it.

         

        Q: Why did you choose the EFM32 Giant Gecko MCU for the Game Tin?

         

        There are a number of reasons why I chose the EFM32 for the Game Tin’s MCU. First, the MCU has ultra-low-power features that can optimize use of the limited energy available on the platform. I also wanted to store as many games and applications as possible and needed large RAM and flash memory while keeping the package size small enough to fit on a small game board. The EFM32 met all of these requirements.

         

        The other major reason for choosing the EFM32 was Silicon Labs’ free and easy-to-use Simplicity Studio development platform, which is available for Linux. Using Simplicity Studio, I can simply hook up my board to the PC to measure the power consumption of the Game Tin through energy monitoring tools in the development suite. This energy-aware tool was really beneficial in optimizing the Game Tin for low power consumption.

         

        Last but not least, the application note for the energy optimized display application (AN0048) provided a good starting point as a lot of work was already done. In addition, inspiring projects on the Silicon Labs community website showed me what other developers have accomplished with EFM32 and Simplicity Studio.

         

        gametin-blog.png

         

        Q: Can you share any future plan for the Game Tin?

         

        The Game Tin is still in the prototype stage, and I am in the process of determining if there’s enough consumer interest to move forward into production. I am currently working on the hardware side of the design. I plan to have an open source development library enabling anyone to develop applications for the Game Tin and to get easy access to resources for a quick start.

         

        For more details including technical specifications or to purchase the Game Tin, visit ShiftHack at http://www.shifthack.com/game-tin/features/

         

      • Wearables Wish List to Keep Those Resolutions

        lethawicker | 01/02/2015 | 12:39 PM

        Well, it’s January 2. That means that many of you are looking around and sizing up how to get started with all those fitness resolutions. One way is to get yourself a fitness wearable. These devices are becoming commonplace, but now might be the time to pick one up to help keep you honest.

        We have a list of winning wearables that all have Silicon Labs technology inside:

         

         

        imgres.jpgThe Basis Peak not only counts your steps, calories burned and heart rate, it also helps you get a better handle on your sleep and prompts you to keep you in line with your fitness and sleep goals.

         

         

        imgres-1.jpgThe Hot Smart Watch takes your game from the ordinary to the extraordinary with smartphone features paired up with a wearable fitness tracker.

         

         

        imgres-3.jpgThe Misfit Shine is an elegant wearable that measures both motion and sleep. The halo of lights shows you how active you've been throughout the day by walking, running, swimming,  and cycling. 

         

         

         

        imgres-2.jpgThe Polar M400 is a great solution for serious cross-training athletes with a great starting price for all of its capabilities.

         

         

         

        Those are just four options—Silicon Labs’ sensor and MCU technology dominates in the wearables space and is getting more and more popular with every new release. So don’t wait—find the best wearable for your active lifestyle and get moving!