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Tiny Bluetooth low energy proximity key fob runs for a year on a coin cell

June 13, 2012 // Jean-Pierre Joosting

Tiny Bluetooth low energy proximity key fob runs for a year on a coin cell

Nordic Semiconductor ASA has announced that Hong Kong-headquartered Dayton Industrial Co. Ltd., a leading OEM/ODM of wireless products has launched a Bluetooth® low energy proximity key fob based on Nordic's µBlue™ nRF8002 System-on-Chip (SoC) that is less than half the size of a credit card.

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The nRF8002's class-leading ULP performance and size will enable the Dayton Bluetooth low energy proximity key fob to run for around a year from a regular 3-V CR2025 lithium coin cell battery under typical (daily) usage conditions while featuring an extremely slim (0.5-cm-thick) and compact (4.9- x 3.2-cm) plastic sensor housing that features a single push button and two submerged LED status lights (one red to signal alerts, and one green to signal pairing status) within a product that weighs less than 40-g. There are also additional micro-vibrator and buzzer alert options.

The Dayton production-ready product platform will allow OEMs and developers to develop a whole range of both standard (Bluetooth v4.0 profile-based) and non-standard (uniquely developed) proximity, property location and security applications ('apps') for use with devices that employ Bluetooth v4.0 wireless technology such as the latest iPad and the iPhone 4S.

The nRF8002s ULP design features peak currents as low as 13 mA and does not require an external 32 kHz crystal. Depending on the duty cycle of the application, battery life from a single coin cell-powered wireless device can extend to months or even years.

Within the latest Bluetooth v4.0 specification there are currently two profiles applicable to proximity-based property location and security. The first, the Find Me profile targets smartphone applications and allows users to pair small but commonly misplaced everyday objects with their smartphone in order to locate them via, for example, a Bluetooth low energy proximity key fob that could be used to find a misplaced phone (by pushing a button on the fob to make the phone sound an audible alert), or a misplaced key fob (by pushing a button within a smartphone app to make the key fob sound an alert).

The second, the Bluetooth low energy Proximity profile targets smartphones and other portable devices such as computer laptops and tablets, and further extends the functionality of the Find Me profile to include more advanced in- and out-of-range functions. This could include, for instance, the ability to trigger an automatic security lock-down if a smartphone or laptop/tablet is separated from its owner by more than a certain threshold distance, or wake a sleeping desktop computer as soon as the user sits down in front of it.

"Although these use cases are set to become hugely popular our Bluetooth low energy key fob design platform will support practically any proximity, property location, or security application an OEM or app developer can come up with above and beyond the standard Bluetooth v4.0 profiles and use cases," comments Tony Chung, a Senior Marketing Executive at Dayton. "This could include, for example, monitoring pets to ensure they don't stray too far away from home by adding GPS functionality to the standard Find Me profile, or developing an assistance alarm that sends a signal to a smartphone to alert someone that the user is in need of help.

Chung continues: "And the low cost nature of this device means it could also be bundled free-of-charge with higher value Bluetooth v4.0 products such as smartphones and tablet computers to attract customers."

"Proximity-based property location and security could be one of the most popular use cases for Bluetooth low energy technology," comments Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing, "because while the popularity of products such as smartphones and computer tablets has exploded over recent years - so has the security risk and potential feeling of panic at having such desirable items packed full of our most sensitive and personal data lost or stolen. This low cost and easy-to-use Dayton product platform should help address such problems and in all likelihood reach into a host of brand new proximity-based applications as well."


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