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      • Techmor Takes F1 and NASCAR Racing to the Next Level with IoT

        deirdrewalsh | 07/210/2016 | 12:08 PM

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        I recently spoke with Todd Mory, an engineering-jack-of-all-trades and founder of Techmor. Todd has always been fascinated by fast-wheeled things, turning his childhood passion into a fruitful career in high-performance vehicle design. In other words, he builds things that go fast. I asked him how the Internet of Things has played into the evolution of his company, and about the sensors he builds. Here’s what he had to share:

         

        Tell us a little bit about yourself:

        As a kid, I was always riding around on skateboards, bikes, go-karts; I loved anything on wheels. In school, I studied physics and mechanical engineering, participating in programs like Formula SAE. So I suppose I was destined for high-performance automotive design from the very beginning. I spent decades working for the likes of Ford and Toyota, designing vehicles to compete in Formula 1, NASCAR, and more.

         

        In 2008, I decided to go out on my own and started Techmor. I started helping other racing teams by building new sensors and systems for high-performance testing. Our clients use data from our cutting edge sensor systems to make strategic design decisions, all in hopes to get a competitive advantage over the rest of the field.

         

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        So then how did you get into the Internet of Things?

        Gone are the days when mechanical engineering was purely mechanical. There’s electrical powering, software control, communications, and more. Right after I had graduated and started out at Ford, I realized that, as a mechanical engineer, if I hung around the electrical engineers I could learn just enough to become an expert in embedded design. Nowadays, I do all kinds of design work, including mechanical design, electrical design, coding, and app development.

         

        At what point did Silicon Labs come into the picture?

        Oh man, this might make me sound old, but I remember a company called Cygnal. They built 8-bit chips and started adding peripherals - like the CAN bus - which is an industry standard in automotive design. These chips were really innovative in my early days. Silicon Labs bought Cygnal and the innovations just kept coming.

         

        Today, I can acquire sensor data through a CAN bus, do a little bit of onboard processing on a 32-bit MCU, and I can use a Digi XBee radio or Bluetooth communication to send signals to a bridge or mobile device. So we’ve come a long way from the analog world.

         

        I’ve continued using Silicon Labs products because they always seemed to keep the pace with the microcontroller industry. I remember when things like wireless communication weren’t possible and Silicon Labs was one of the first to provide chips that could do that. And it always seemed like its new chips would have 10x the processing power than its predecessors.

         

        You also have to understand that my industry has some pretty tough requirements on embedded processing. It’s not just about the performance, it’s about the ruggedness. These chips need to operate in some pretty tough conditions. Imagine a pizza oven on a jack hammer. These chips get close to really hot areas, experiencing extreme vibrations and torque up to 8,000 horsepower.

         

        Keep in mind, we use a lot of other technology from other chip manufacturers in our designs too. But the easiest chip to use is the one you know best. The portability of code and existing designs across their product family often saves us a lot of development time. And in cases where we don’t already have existing code or programs ourselves, Silicon Labs usually has its own example programs, so we are rarely ever starting from scratch.

         

        So let’s hear about some of the cool stuff you are working on:

        One of our products calculates exact height and width dimensions of a vehicle. Knowing the exact height of every corner of your physical car is a strategic advantage when you are determining how to take corners and navigate tracks. In the past, you’d have to use tape measures, crawl under the car, factor in a margin of error, and more. But we made it simple by using magnets and lasers. You stick a couple of our sensors on the car by magnet. They point lasers at each other to take the dimensions and they communicate these dimensions back to your android device.

         

        Specifically, we have a Silicon Labs chip that interfaces with our laser sensor. It converts the analog voltage to a radio signal. We can put this radio to sleep for a matter of milliseconds to help save battery life. These long range radio signals are sent to a bridge, where they are converted to Bluetooth and ultimately sent to the user interface Android device.

         

        Laser Ride Height System.jpg

         

        What’s the next milestone on your horizon?

        Basically, after figuring out all this wireless stuff, IoT, and how to send packets of information, we now have a repeatable framework: you take a reading, send to tablet, and this tablet is connected to the internet.

         

        We’ve called this platform “LINC.” It’s our home brewed framework to make a small message and store it in a database. For our customers, it’s less about the Internet of Things and more about the Internet of Tools. They now have record of all of these measurements, every measurement they’ve ever taken. And many of the teams have multiple cars, so they can start consolidating information together. There’s no telling how racing can evolve when they have access to every data point they’ve ever taken.

         

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        In your opinion, what does the future of IoT look like?

        In my mind, as the price of these chips and connectivity gets lower and lower, I don't think we'll continue to call these IoT devices. They will just be known as devices.

         

         

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      • Kicking the Tires on Thunderboard React with Techmor and Joe Gibbs Racing

        Lance Looper | 07/207/2016 | 05:08 PM

        Today we officially announced our new Thunderboard React developer kit, which we’ve designed as a cost-effective prototyping tool for connecting wireless sensor nodes to mobile devices and the cloud.  The idea is simple: Thunderboard React’s onboard sensors measure light, motion, and environmental conditions and this data is transmitted in real-time to the cloud via a Bluetooth connection. By simplifying IoT design, we think we can help customers bring their ideas to market faster.

         

        Car Kit.png

        To illustrate the kit’s abilities, Thunderboard React comes with an optional Pinewood Derby-style car kit to demonstrate its real-world functionality. The kit comes with everything you need to build the car, as well as the Thunderboard React board. The board fits into the body of the car and an intuitive mobile app displays the acceleration, speed, distance, inertia, proximity, humidity, and temperature of the car.

         

        Thunderboard React Car Kit App Screens.png

        And because timing is everything in life, we had the opportunity to go on the road with Thunderboard React to NASCAR country where we spent some time with Todd Mory, the founder of Techmor, Inc. and Doug Temple, the director of electrical systems at Joe Gibbs Racing. We met Todd when we profiled him for our IoT Hero campaign, and visiting him in his shop to shoot a video with him is what brought us to Cornelius, North Carolina. Techmor specializes in high-performance measurement devices for automotive, military, medical, and consumer markets and Todd has built a reputation on customized designs to meet the needs of demanding applications. His customers include professional race teams, SpaceX, and the US Army, just to name a few.

         

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        Todd arranged for us to meet Doug, one of his customers, so we could get an up-close look at Techmor products at work. The amount of testing and experimentation that happens in a NASCAR garage is staggering. Everything (and I mean everything) is measured down to the smallest integer, and decisions, variables, and inputs are recorded and logged for later reference. If something is dragging down performance, these guys are going to find it and fix it.

         

        Listening to these guys talk about squeezing every drop of performance out of the cars they’re building was a great way to see how critical real-time access to data is to making decisions.

         

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        This was a perfect illustration to the power of a development tool like Thunderboard React. Most IoT developers are working on tight budgets and need to be able to solve problems with limited expertise in certain areas. So a platform that abstracts away some of the design complexity so developers can get up and running quickly and on their own.

         

        The Thunderboard React kit includes the following Silicon Labs components and software:

        Get Thunderboard React here, and check back later this week for our full IoT Hero profile on Todd and the work he’s doing at Techmor.

      • IoT Hero: ASUS Builds Smart Home System Solutions

        deirdrewalsh | 07/204/2016 | 06:13 AM

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        We had the valuable opportunity to interview ASUSTeK Computer (ASUS)—an internationally-known technology company. We spoke with Yeh Ching-hsin, a senior manager of Smart Home Marketing at ASUS New Product Planning, to learn how ASUS expanded its business to include Smart Home devices in the IoT market and other new business opportunities through its experience and technology in ODM and brand management. We also discussedSilicon Labs’ reliable ZigBee® wireless protocol software and hardware solutions.

         

        “IoT is rapidly growing, and Smart Home has the most potential,” says Yeh Ching-hsin, a senior manager of Smart Home Marketing at ASUS New Product Planning.

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        Please tell us about your experience and thoughts in regards to the IoT market and product design.

        There are various applications in the IoT market. If we use consumers’ future demands as the main observation indicator, we can see that there is a very large potential demand for family applications. Therefore, when developing its new IoT business, ASUS sets Smart Home applications as its primary goal in order to adapt to the market.

         

        Smart Home product design can be divided into Point Product and Whole Home Solution. The former is single-function products such as IP CAM, and the latter is a complete system. Typically, Point Product focuses on “N+1” function innovation, while Whole Home Solution focuses on the “N2.”

         

        For that reason, ASUS not only brings Point Product innovations, but understands the great value Whole Home Solution can bring to the customers. ASUS has recently launched a set of ASUS Smart Home System solutions based on Smart Gateway, including smart electronic door locks, smart sockets, door and window opening/closing sensors, smart alarms, temperature and humidity detectors, motion sensors, and other devices. All these products support the ZigBee Mesh Network as the main home backbone network, creating a vertical integration system from the cloud to the device.

         

        In addition, the system can work with software, expand to different IoT application markets, and provide comprehensive Smart Home services. Such a complete system solution can be used as the core technology and demonstration solution in the future Smart Home industry.

         

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        ASUS Smart Home System Concept Map

         

        Please tell us about the ASUS company culture and its strategies in the IoT market.

        The ASUS culture is striving to be “unparalleled” and “the most admired company in the digital age,” as our Chairman Shih often stresses. With such core values, ASUS not only competes in the IoT market with its Smart Home system solutions, but also applies its values in product design and strives to provide highest-quality products and best user experience.

         

        In the current IoT market, many different standards exist and compete against each other, and there is not one mainstream standard yet. In order to meet the current needs of IoT market development in this chaos, ASUS sticks to its main product development strategy, which is “maintaining flexible design architecture and integrating international mainstream technologies.”

         

        In terms of the ASUS Smart Home System, the development strategies not only include individual product innovation, but also vertical integration, horizontal expansion, and providing services. For example, the ASUS Smart Home System is the first complete Smart Home solution to integrate the industry standards of home appliances in Taiwan. This provides an additional option for electricity power distribution during Taiwan's summer peak load period by integrating the Smart Home system with the national electricity energy program.

         

        Derived from Smart Home, this innovative application will have significant impact on the whole IoT industry from inside to outside and from small points to large areas. It not only helps individual families enjoy a smart life, but also provides to the government an additional energy control option other than electrical energy resource development.

         

        Please tell us about the features and benefits of the ASUS Smart Home System.

        In the Smart Home IoT applications, the ASUS Smart Home System can provide various smart network application services, including home automation, security, power saving, environmental comfort detection, and video streaming. The overall system solution has the following main features:

         

        • Easy and Simple: Easy to install, easy to use, and low-cost DIY.
        • Secure & Robust: It can provide stable and secure home network systems and services for consumers.
        • Scalable: Users can upgrade through the system software and firmware, continuously expand device capabilities, and link more new IoT devices.
        • Customizable: The solution can be interfaced with other third-party systems so as to expand the scope of the application to various fields.
        • Innovative & Creative: The whole system adopts many innovative technologies, such as the unique smart door burglar alarm and the innovative Main Switch function that allows the user to turn the home alarm system on and off conveniently by using the key. In addition, the ASUS Smart Home System is the first solution in Taiwan that supports smart appliances of all brands to truly enable a fully interconnected Smart Home.
        • Attractive: The ASUS Smart Home System has won many world-class design awards since its release, including iF Best Design, Japan Good Design, Computex Best Choice, and Taiwan Excellent Top 100 Innovations.

        ASUS_Smart_Home_System.png

        The ASUS Smart Home System supports a wide range of applications

         

        What made you choose Silicon Labs as your semiconductor partner?

        In ASUS Smart Home System devices, we’ve widely adopted Silicon Labs’ ZigBee solution to achieve a reliable and seamless ZigBee mesh network connection and ensure the best user experience for home network and link stability while connecting a large number of IoT devices.

         

        As mentioned earlier, it’s essential for a Smart Home to provide a stable, reliable network. And Silicon Labs has extensive experience in ZigBee protocol wireless semiconductor solutions and provides high-quality products, as well as complete hardware and software technical support. That’s why ASUS chose Silicon Labs as its partner.

         

        In fact, Silicon Labs is a leading provider of ZigBee and Thread wireless mesh network semiconductor solutions, and it can provide the latest-generation standard ZigBee/Thread wireless system-on-chip (SoC), modules, software development tools, and a full range of IoT reference designs for home automation and intelligent lighting applications.

         

        Silicon Labs’ ZigBee platform is a highly integrated and complete solution with rich features. Silicon Labs has also recently announced the industry-first EFR32TM Wireless Gecko multi-protocol wireless SoC products. Based on a 2.4 GHz transceiver and ARM® Cortex™-M4 microcontrollers, EFR32 Mighty Gecko SoC integrates the most reliable, scalable, and advanced software protocol stacks with best-in-class development tool support. And it can at the same time meet the design requirements of ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth Smart, and exclusive protocols.

         

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        Introduction to wireless Gecko multi-protocol wireless SoC series products

         

        Importantly, Silicon Labs also provides complete, optimized, easy-to-use ZigBee home automation and lighting application reference designs for Connected Home applications. Based on the ZigBee HA 1.2 profile, it helps simplify the ZigBee wireless mesh network design complexity and minimize power consumption.

         

        Please tell us about your opinion on IoT development and also the future of the IoT market in mainland China and Taiwan.

        The IoT market has a very large potential. For IoT, the most important thing is the “standard.” Currently, there are a lot of IoT platform standards available in the market competing for their IoT market share. However, the companies who want to enter the market aren't sure what to choose among such a large number of standards.

         

        This holds back the market development. The IoT challenge does not come mainly from technology, but rather from the communications between cross-industry standards. Therefore, developers hope to have an integrated mainstream standard in different application areas as soon as possible. This will make the entire IoT application market grow rapidly.

         

        As global giants focus on building IoT platforms, Chinese companies also place an emphasis on it. For example, Tencent introduced an open IoT platform, “QQ IoT,” and Alibaba also launched the overall IoT strategy this year in order to build an IoT platform by integrating Ali Cloud, Ali Smart, YunOS, and other business areas. In addition, telecoms carriers are also developing their IoT strategies. The mainland China market is large enough to form a standard for its own platform, which is a development indicator that the industry must pay attention to.

         

        As for Taiwan, due to its strong upstream and downstream electronics industry chain, it will play an important role in the global IoT supply chain. The Taiwan market is not big in itself, but complete integrated solutions can be built for different application areas and then be tested in its market before exporting total solutions to other countries. As a result, Taiwan not only provides the IoT components, but also provides total solutions to enhance its value and competitiveness.

         

         

      • Early Access: Embedded Development Gets Even Simpler with Simplicity Studio 4

        Lance Looper | 07/202/2016 | 06:07 PM

        We are rolling back the curtain for early access to Simplicity Studio 4, the latest major update to Simplicity Studio, a tool suite that provides a unified software environment for designers to complete MCU and wireless projects. With this early access version, you will have access to all our IoT products expect for BLE.  We’re saving this for the big release!  Continue to use version 3.3 for your BLE project.

         

        By downloading the early access version, you can see for yourself how this update makes Simplicity Studio more efficient, flexible, and more developer friendly to simplify development and reduce time to market. As the industry’s first and only complete IoT development environment, Simplicity Studio 4 can be used by developers to design a product that meets their unique needs.

         

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        The latest update has improved and redesigned the underlying infrastructure. The new installation method allows users to get what they need from the application. If only a single tool is needed, it can be downloaded and installed without the extra overhead. Additionally, the tool is in sync with wireless stacks, documentation, and new product support packages, making it no longer necessary to wait for new builds and releases to get access to the more recent assets.

         

        Simplicity Studio 4 runs on Eclipse 4.5 and completely reinvents the developer experience. With seamless content and document navigation, easy-to-create support tickets, and global searches, information and helpful resources can be easily identified and utilized to further reduce development time. The new version will also allow users to connect to their SiLabs.com account and access wireless stacks and assets associated with early access. To further the user experience, Simplicity Studio 4 will enable the user to enter from a device or solution perspective. From a device perspective, the user will be able to manipulate their device to perform a number of tasks and create context around it. In the solution perspective the user can organize their own solutions, as well as access pre-defined solutions in which Simplicity Studio recommends applicable devices and sets its context to the parts that make up that solution.

         

        With the ever-expanding IoT market, the need for an all-encompassing development tool for both MCUs and wireless products is great. The latest upgrade to Simplicity Studio will enable users to develop this wide range of IoT products within a common and familiar development environment. Context switching will no longer be necessary, which reduces development effort and time by eliminating the need to jump from tool to tool or learn a new tool suite entirely. Additionally, Simplicity Studio 4 will offer a variety of tools to improve efficiency. Analysis tools include Energy Profiler to optimize energy usage, Network Analyzer to build a robust network, and Capsense Profiler used for touch applications. Configuration tools include the new Xpress Configurator for configuring fixed function devices, AppBuilder for building with wireless applications, and Configurator to write initialization code and resolve pin conflicts. These tools combine to create a multi-faceted platform that provides complete development support for IoT products.

         

        Whether you are a maker hobbyist or experienced engineer, Simplicity Studio 4 will provide a reliable platform to aid in each stage of embedded development. With speed, efficiency, a fast learning curve, and robust tools, the newest upgrade simplifies development and gives users everything needed to go from initial concept to final product on a single platform.

         

        Take a sneak peak today!   We’ll be back with the big, official release very soon with BLE fully in the mix!

      • Battery-Powered Nodes: Top 3 Concerns

        jwilczek | 07/197/2016 | 10:26 AM

        The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing and utilized in a variety of industries. One of the largest classes of IoT applications currently uses battery-powered sensor nodes. While this is a great approach for wireless power and connectivity, maximizing performance and battery life simultaneously can be difficult.

         

        The main concerns of battery-powered nodes are:

        1. Environmental sensing
        2. Efficient energy use
        3. MCU and CPU wakeups

         

        Understanding these concerns and how they affect sensor design is critical to creating long-lasting, high-performance IoT nodes.

         

        1. Environmental Sensing

        Ultimately, sensor nodes need to accurately measure their environment upon wakeup, gauging conditions such as fluctuating temperature and humidity levels. Adequate sensing is integral to an application’s performance and must be reliable amidst constant change.

         

        1. Efficient Energy Use

        Sensor nodes should ideally have robust life spans of much more than just a few months. However, the multiple peripherals and main core of a node consume a large amount of energy during use. That’s why it’s helpful to have a sensor system that regulates and manages sensors, only activating those that are necessary for the task at hand as to prolong battery life.

         

         

        Sensor Node.JPG

        High energy consumption with CPU polling and active during every measurement.

         

        1. MCU and CPU Wakeups

        Waking up a chip’s core processor or the rest of the chip every time the node is active can create problems. The energy used to boot up the MCU and CPU for every miniscule action is wasteful and unnecessary. Ideally, the node should be able to recognize what part of the chip is truly required to carry out an action and what isn’t. It should then wake up only pertinent parts and leave the MCU at rest unless absolutely necessary. Reducing the number of times the entire chip and core are woken up will conserve energy, ensuring extended usage for a node per single battery charge.

         

        Whitepaper on Designing Sensors into Battery-Powered IoT Nodes

        Read our new whitepaper to learn more about the challenges developers can face with battery-powered sensor nodes as well as design solutions. Make the most out of your IoT nodes and start designing smarter.

         

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      • A Short History of the Bluetooth BLE standard, BLE Beacons, and GATT

        Lance Looper | 07/195/2016 | 10:00 AM

        The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (The SIG) governs the Bluetooth standards including what they do, how they work technically, certification and interoperability, branding, and standard evolution. They have been in business for almost twenty years.

         

        In 2009, the SIG announced its version 4.0, including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It was later re-branded as Bluetooth Smart, and has just been rebranded again in 2016. (See www.bluetooth.org for more details.) As a result of all this branding, the terms Bluetooth Smart, Bluetooth Low Energy, BLE, and now Bluetooth low energy technology are used interchangeably.

         

        The SIG’s goal with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) was to enter the emerging low-energy IoT market, creating a standard that would allow devices to run for years on very low power. BLE was a radical departure from what is known as Bluetooth Basic Rate / Enhanced Data Rate (Bluetooth BR/EDR), or Classic Bluetooth, introduced in the late 1990s and used in handsets, speakers, earphones, car kits, etc.

         

        Bluetooth Low Energy and Classic Bluetooth both utilize the 2.4 GHz ISM band. They also both use frequency hopping to spread their RF energy. But they are not compatible. Bluetooth Low Energy uses 40 2MHz-wide channels instead of Classic Bluetooth’s 79 1MHz-wide channels.

         

        Bluetooth History Image.png

         

        BLE also uses channels 37, 38, and 39 for broadcasting “advertising packets” that contain information about the node’s capabilities. Channels 37, 38 and 39 fall between the primary 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channels, thus allowing the advertising packets to co-exist with more powerful Wi-Fi signals. Most advertising packets are broadcast on all three channels simultaneously.

         

        Bluetooth Generic Attribute (GATT) Profile

        The SIG also abandoned its existing “Bluetooth profiles” system and adopted GATT (Generic Attribute) profiles for BLE. GATT provides a structured list that defines the services, characteristics and attributes of a given node. A beacon node might include multiple services. When a service needs to be advertised, the GATT includes the relevant information, and Bluetooth scanners register the node’s capabilities and take relevant actions.

         

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        Whitepaper on Developing with Bluetooth BLE Beacons

        Our experts have put some very relevant information in a whitepaper on developing with Bluetooth beacons. The goal is to help you get to market quickly with the right, stable solution.

        It covers a lot of territory:

         

        • We examine beacon applications to help you brainstorm some of your own.
        • We provide a short history of Bluetooth and its derivatives, including Bluetooth low energy and beacons.
        • We cover the leading beacon pseudo-standards at a high level, and in detail in the Appendix.
        • We provide references to field-hardened example code and tools to develop and deploy it.
        • And we provide information on end-to-end solutions to get you started.
      • How to Determine Bluetooth BLE Beacon Proximity

        Lance Looper | 07/193/2016 | 10:15 AM

        Determining how far you are from a beacon is a challenge because 1) RF signals degrade unpredictably depending on their environments; 2) Bluetooth beacons do not use a consistent RF transmit power; and 3) the technology does not have enough technical tricks yet.

         

        Beacon Proximity.png

         

        To date, the only feasible answer to locate a beacon without geo-positioning information is to estimate its distance from the receiver (scanner) based on Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) and RF transmit power. The exercise spits out an approximate proximity, or an “approximity,” if you’ll allow the pun.

        Part of the reason is that RF degrades in its environment according to an almost unlimited number of variables (humidity, people density, walls, wall materials, transmit power, adjacent blockers, trees, metal, etc.

         

        Another part is that Bluetooth beacons do not have a single standardized RF output power, and therefore range can vary from under a meter, to a few meters, to more than 500 meters. A final part is that RSSI does very little to indicate directionality.

         

        So in practice, receiving and decoding a beacon packet has limited information for calculating how near it is.

        There are some bits of helpful information and techniques. The beacon’s transmit power is included in the packet structure, and most scanners, or receivers, have an RSSI. Using these two inputs, RSSI + TX Power, a receiver can approximate the distance to the beacon. Further, as multiple approximations are calculated it follows that an application can determine if the scanner is getting closer or further from the beacon.

         

        Once the beacon location is determined, smartphone applications can store the information for subsequent encounters. When the beacon identifier and services are decoded, the smartphone or associated application already has its location stored.

         

        Future versions of the Bluetooth specification will likely incorporate Angle-of-Arrival (AoA) and Angle-of-Departure (AoD) features which allow multi-antenna Bluetooth devices to determine the spatial location of another Bluetooth device. AoA and AoD will support high-accuracy location detection, potentially giving position accuracy to within tens of centimeters.

         

        But standards move slowly. Until AoA and AoD are standardized, the RSSI + TX power calculation is the best approximity measurement, and changes unpredictably with the real world of walls, weather, people, and propagation.

         

        Whitepaper on Developing with Bluetooth BLE BeaconsBeacon WP CTA.png

        Our experts have put some very relevant information in a whitepaper on developing with Bluetooth beacons. The goal is to help you get to market quickly with the right, stable solution.

        It covers a lot of territory:

         

        • We examine beacon applications to help you brainstorm some of your own.
        • We provide a short history of Bluetooth and its derivatives, including Bluetooth low energy and beacons.
        • We cover the leading beacon pseudo-standards at a high level, and in detail in the Appendix.
        • We provide references to field-hardened example code and tools to develop and deploy it.
        • And we provide information on end-to-end solutions to get you started.
      • Wireless Workshops

        Siliconlabs | 07/190/2016 | 10:37 AM

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        Locations & Dates
        Bay Area (San Jose) - July 12th
        Boston- September 15th
        Chicago - September 22nd
        Orange County (Irvine) - July 26th
        Los Angeles (Woodland Hills)- July 28th
        Milwaukee - September 21st
        Minneapolis- July 14th
        Pittsburgh- August 11th
        Toronto TBD
        Atlanta TBD
        Bay Area (San Francisco) TBD

         

        Join Silicon Labs experts for a series workshop geared to show how the Wireless Gecko SoCs, modules, software, and development tools can help your next design. The engaging training includes interactive demonstrations and hands-on labs. You'll get an overview on the guts of our latest Wireless Gecko family including how it addresses four common challenges in wireless designs: low energy, security, risk & time to market, and multi-protocol support.

         

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      • July 2016 Member Spotlight: operator

        Siliconlabs | 07/188/2016 | 04:25 AM

        We are featuring one of the Silicon Labs Community members who is active or new in the community on a monthly basis to help members connect with each other.

         

        Meet our July member of the month: operator

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        Q: Congrats on becoming our featured member of the month! Can you introduce yourself to our community members?

         

        First and foremost, I am honored to be selected as a Silicon Labs community member of the month.

         

        At present I am an Embedded and Security Field Applications Engineer located in southern California at a fantastic world-wide distributor of components (including Silicon Labs parts).

        I hold a degree in Robotics and Embedded Systems and have a background in security and cryptography.

         

        In my personal time I enjoy building things, breaking things, and hacking things (the legal kind) to better understand how they function.

         

        As of late, a fair amount of my time spent on the forums involves lurking around the Wireless section.

         

        Q: You recently posted the EFR32WG Range Test project in the community. What's the motivation behind building the project?

         

        The EFR32WG Range Test project began as a training exercise to better support SiLabs products in the field. Learning can be tedious without fun so I decided to strap some ridiculously overkill antennas to the EFR32WG just to see what would happen. The puzzled looks we received walking around a lake with a parabolic grid antenna were well worth the effort. The actual data that was collected was essentially a bonus.

         

        Q: Do you have something in mind for your next project?

         

        I am actively developing a voice-modulator for remote-controlled Daleks (it's a Dr. Who thing) using the WT32i.

                         https://github.com/EmbeddedDesign/GotT-Translation-Circuit

         

        I also have a personal project using the BGM111/EFR32BG that's not quite ready for prime time yet.

         

        Q: What advice would you give to someone new to the community?

         

        Find some common GND... (puns)

        Seriously though, the key word here is "community" so get involved.

        Folks are far more likely to go out of their way to help you if you've done some diligence and are thoughtful, kind, and attempt to help others.

        Community members don't get paid to be here so bear in mind that they are taking time out of their lives to answer your questions. Show your thanks and appreciation of this.

        Of course, SiLabs employees are humans as well so treat them with respect and they will be a font of incomparable insight.

         

        Q: Thanks for answering the questions. Any final comment?

         

        My github can be found here:

                       https://github.com/embeddeddesign

        Of particular interest might be the collection of SiLabs wireless symbols and footprints:

                       https://github.com/EmbeddedDesign/SiLabsWireless

        I will accept pull requests and reasonable suggestions for additions to this repository.

        Also useful might be my brief guide to programming external BGM111 modules:

                       https://github.com/EmbeddedDesign/BGM111-External-Programmer

        My website is https://noctivore.com/

        Special shout-out to tmonte (#) and JaakkoV (#) for being awesome.

      • Choose Wisely: An MCU is Only As Good as Its Development Tools

        Alf | 07/187/2016 | 09:32 PM

        Selecting an MCU for your next project? Only looking at datasheets is no longer enough. Other important factors are well-written documentation, nicely organized software, and development tools. And when you start to look at development tools? Big, small, square, round, black, green, red, pin-out, features? There's a lot of factors to take into account when deciding what vendor to go with.

         

        Our starter-kits (STKs) are so easy that you can pick them up and start coding within five minutes of opening the kits. But they do not stop there. They continue to grow with you as you take all the steps of development. Want a more professional IDE? No problem, all major IDEs are supported. Want to optimize the battery life of your product? No problem, all our STKs support Advanced Energy Monitoring (AEM) to accurately measure the energy consumption of your code. Want to create your own PCB? No problem, the STK doubles as an external debugger, allowing you even to use the same 30 dollar kit even for production programming, as we do in our production line.

         

        EFR32 Starter Kits.png

         

        So, if you want to try out our MCUs and development kits, get a kit from here and head over to mbed.com and check out the online IDE. Here you can get the first programs up running in a matter of minutes. Make sure to check out the example mbed_blinky_low_power to see why the EFM32 will give you 1000x the battery life of a competing MCU, when using mbed. Then, when you've gotten the feeling and are starting your proper design, download our Simplicity Studio and get all the software and supporting tools in one, easy package.

         

        Not sure which kit to chose? Check out these videos for a run-down of the different chips and kits: