Bluetooth environmental sensors offer three-year battery life
The nRF51822 SoC provide Bluetooth® Smart wireless connectivity between iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, and computers, and Wimoto’s ‘Mote’ environmental sensors.
In operation, Motes are claimed to employ industrial-grade sensor technologies, interface seamlessly with a free Wimoto app over a range of up to 35 meters (around 100-ft), and run for up to three years from a coin cell (CR2450) battery.
Motes are weather-proof and about the size of a stack of five U.S. quarters or 35 x 35 x 15 mm (around 1.4 x 1.4 x 0.6-in) and so according to Wimoto can be placed just about anywhere to measure (including alarm when a user-set threshold is crossed) various combinations of physical parameters.
Products currently available include ‘Wimoto Climate’ for measuring temperature, humidity, and light levels for environmental monitoring (e.g. humidors, baby’s rooms and basements); ‘Wimoto Grow’ for measuring when plants need watering (outdoor or indoor); ‘Wimoto Thermo’ for remotely measuring the temperature of an object it’s pointed at – such as water (pools), food, or exotic pets – using non-contact IR thermal technology; ‘Wimoto Sentry’ for detecting external (human or object – e.g. post arriving) movement via non-contact IR movement technology and internal movement via a built-in accelerometer; and a ‘Cloud Cube’ gateway that provides unattended, autonomous monitoring of Wimoto sensors and real-time alerts via the Internet or cellular network (due for release Q3 this year).
Wimoto claims that its unique selling point is that its sensors incorporate industrial-grade sensor technologies that wouldn’t usually be employed in consumer-targeted products. Examples include a MEMS-technology automotive-grade climate control sensor typically employed in higher-end in-car climate control systems, and a light sensor capable of measuring sub-1 lux all the way up to 65,000 lux.
The company was able to achieve this financially as a startup by using crowdfunding to attract a large and supportive customer based that quickly reached a critical "commercially-viable mass" and told the company what two or three features of each sensor product mattered most to them (helping to further maximize the likelihood of sales success).
"The advantage of this is that it means consumers benefit from industrial-grade accuracy and reliability, and industry users can use our sensors for a fraction of the cost of comparable professional B2B [Business-to-Business] solutions," says Marc Nicholas, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Wimoto.
Nicholas adds that the technological specification of the Nordic nRF51822 SoC was critical in helping Wimoto to bring its Mote environmental sensor range to market. "People want very long battery life by which I mean being able to ‘set-up’ and ‘forget’ their wireless sensor devices," continues Nicholas. "And manufacturers like us want the same thing too as it saves on support costs helping customers struggle through changing batteries, no matter how easy you think you’ve made it for end users to do."
Nicholas says as the Mote application software does not require all of the nRF51822’s generous 128kB standard Flash memory (an even larger 256kB option is also available), Wimoto was able to utilize the leftover space for a data-logger feature whereby the nR51822 SoC wakes up every 15 minutes and records sensor information. When the user returns, they can then upload this data-log to their Bluetooth Smart Ready device.
"The concept of the ‘smart home’ is nothing new, but what is new is how Bluetooth Smart wireless technology has moved this market from one dominated by complex, costly professional installations to one driven by simple, low cost solutions that consumers can set-up, customize and use with ease from their Bluetooth Smart Ready devices," comments Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor’s Director of Sales & Marketing. "This will help drive down prices, drive up competition, and accelerate innovation, and ultimately this can only be good news for end users."
The Wimoto sensors are available now from Amazon in the U.S. and Canada with a RRP of USD $49 (and due to be rolled out in Europe and Asia via distributors shortly). A toolkit is also available that allows tech-savvy consumers and professional developers to write their own software and develop their own apps for the Motes.
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