Low cost, low power single chip design for Bluetooth Smart tags and accessories

February 22, 2012 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Sampling now, the nRF8002 extends Nordic Semiconductor's Bluetooth low energy offering with a cost-optimized, ultra-low power, and easy to design-in single chip for Bluetooth Smart (as Bluetooth low energy will now be marketed to consumers) tags and accessories.

To add the µBlue™ nRF8002 to a product design demands no specialist understanding of Bluetooth low energy wireless technology or any embedded firmware development. Using a Nordic nRFgo-compatible nRF8002 Development Kit, developers can design Bluetooth Smart tags and accessories using a simple graphical user interface that allows them to go no deeper than configuring the built-in application layer and mapping inputs and outputs to external components such as buttons, LEDs, and buzzers. The development kit even includes a small coin cell-powered tag design example that can be used for development, prototyping, and testing.

The nRF8002 is supplied in a compact 5 x 5 mm QFN package and includes a fully-qualified Bluetooth v4.0 low energy protocol stack, a highly configurable application layer, and built-in support for a range of Bluetooth v4.0 profiles including: Find Me, Proximity, Alert Notifications, and Battery Status.

The Find Me profile allows users to pair small - but commonly misplaced - everyday objects with their Bluetooth v4.0 smartphone in order to locate either from the other. In a similar way to how people often phone their misplaced cell phones to make them ring and easy to find, a small nRF8002-based Bluetooth Smart tag attached to a keychain, for example, can feature an audible alarm that can be activated if the keys are misplaced by a pressing a button on a smartphone. Alternatively a misplaced smartphone could be made to ring or alarm by pressing a button on the tag.

The Proximity profile adds further out-of-range functionality to the Find Me profile to allow users to pair valuable everyday Bluetooth v4.0 objects (e.g. smartphones and computers) with, for example, a wireless tag so that it alarms or securely locks the valued item if the user and item are separated by more than a specified distance (e.g. due to the user leaving the office, potentially leaving the item behind at a public place, or the item being stolen). Alternatively,