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Bluetooth module creates prototypes within hours

20 Nov 2012  | Paul Buckley

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A fully-approved programmable Bluetooth low energy module has been developed by Laird Technologies. The Bluetooth module is designed to use BASIC language syntax to create Bluetooth low energy prototypes based on Nordic Semiconductor's class-leading nRF51822 SoC in less than a day.

Jonathan Kaye, Laird Technologies' Product Manager, stated that the BL600 series module reduces a customer's development time by an average of six months and eliminates the need to become proficient in Bluetooth low energy wireless technology or obtain the necessary wireless certifications and approvals. Kaye also added that the company's embedded smartBASIC engine also provides customers with their own personal Bluetooth low energy 'expert' built into every module.

The BL600 series surface mount module is about the size of an adult thumbnail (19 x 12.5 x 3 mm) and has a cubic volume that is less than that of a regular CR2032 coin cell battery. Requiring 2.1-3.6V of power, it is a stand-alone, hostless, programmable device that attaches to sensors via UART, SPI, I2C, or GPIO, with a small amount of code written in Laird's event-driven smartBASIC programming language. Data collected from a sensor can be sent to any device that is compatible with the latest Bluetooth v4.0 specification including smartphones, tablet computers, and local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN) gateways.

The BL600 series module features an integrated antenna or option for external antenna, and is said to provide a generous 95 dB link budget for maximum operating range. The module supports a variety of Bluetooth low energy profiles including Heart Rate, Thermometer, and Proximity profiles, plus custom profiles created using free development tools and Laird's smartBASIC programming language.

Laird's smartBASIC is an object-based language that can cover all Bluetooth low energy functionality for seamless bridging of sensors to Bluetooth low energy characteristic value attributes. After initializing the environment, a typical smartBASIC application waits for events that are serviced by user-written handlers. While the application waits for events, the module is in very low power mode consuming less than 10µA of current from the coin cell battery.

"This series of modules from Laird Technologies means customers don't need to be experts in Bluetooth low energy to start designing Bluetooth low energy products or capabilities," concluded Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing. "And because the BL600 series is based on the Nordic nRF51822 SoC, customer designs will benefit from class-leading levels of RF performance and ultra-low power consumption."

- Paul Buckley

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