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IoT Ready to Run: System-on-Chip Simplifies the Development of Smart Products

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The promise of IoT “Plug and Play” allows developers to get an IoT device connected, up and running more easily, removing the friction associated with hardware and software configuration steps that are needed today.

One of the biggest challenges in building IoT solutions using legacy approaches is to connect millions of IoT devices to the cloud across different sensors, actuators, operating systems, compute power, and more, and it is widely agreed this has been slowing down IoT adoption.

IoT Plug and Play solutions offer developers tools that will allow them to connect these devices to the cloud without having to write any code.

It takes a village to make this work, including the hardware, firmware and software manufacturers in a broad and rapidly evolving IoT ecosystem. Microsoft Azure has been tackling this challenge over the last few years and is adding new Plug and Play solutions in the Azure IoT Device Catalog.

Nordic Semiconductor this week announced that Cloud of Things, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based Internet of Things (IoT) solutions company, selected its nRF52840 Bluetooth® 5.2/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the wireless connectivity for its DeviceTone Genie module.

The DeviceTone Genie is a plug-and-play module designed for integration into any electronic product where the manufacturer wishes to introduce “production-grade” IoT capabilities and Microsoft Azure IoT Cloud support. For example, it can be used in lighting or utility metering applications to make luminaires or meters smart.

The tiny 6 by 6cm module connects to a product via a UART, RS485, GPIO, or I2C interface, and comes pre-installed with a temperature sensor, GPS receiver, and Cloud of Things DeviceTone Nano firmware.

Once the module is configured and provisioned via the company’s Cloud-based DeviceTone Manager platform, the connected device is ready-to-run, and the user can immediately start sending data from the device to the Cloud.

Platform users can configure and manage a range of features, for example execute scheduling tasks, set alert parameters, review analytics, and generate reports. Native support for Microsoft Azure IoT and IoT Plug & Play enables users to direct device data to their Azure IoT Cloud—either using a built-in cellular modem or via a gateway using Nordic Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity—providing the flexibility to integrate devices with other Microsoft tools such as Azure Stream Analytics and Microsoft Flow.

The DeviceTone Nano software stack is built on Nordic’s nRF5 SDK and includes peripheral, connectivity and power management layers. The layers are accompanied by nRF5 SDK-based drivers to ease the software development task.

"The ability to easily turn a 'dumb' electronic product into a wireless, Cloud-connected 'smart' device is fundamental to the success of the IoT," says Geir Langeland, Director of Sales & Marketing, Nordic Semiconductor. "Cloud of Things' DeviceTone Genie module cleverly makes this a plug and play exercise, even for developers with limited wireless expertise."

“The combination of Bluetooth 5.2 support, the advanced Arm Cortex M4 processor, superior power management, and a load of peripherals made the nRF52840 SoC the ideal choice for the DeviceTone Genie,” said David Chouraqui, EVP EMEA, Cloud of Things. “The size of the Flash memory enables a complex application infrastructure, while the Arm TrustZone CryptoCell subsystem ensured we could include advanced security features as part of the solution. Nordic also provided great technical support throughout product development.”

The Nordic nRF52840 SoC incorporates an Arm TrustZone CryptoCell™-310 cryptographic module and an AES 128-bit hardware accelerator. These features support a wide range of asymmetric, symmetric, and hashing cryptographic services offering end-to-end security for applications integrating the DeviceTone Genie module. In addition to best-in-class security, the nRF52840 SoC provides ample processing power and generous memory to handle the large volume of data generated by connected devices. The SoC combines a 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor with floating point unit (FPU), with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5.2, ANT™, Thread, Zigbee, IEEE 802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software) with 1MB Flash memory and 256kB RAM. 

Nordic’s nRF52840 is Nordic’s most advanced ultra-low power nRF52 Series SoC. The SoC supports complex Bluetooth LE and other low-power wireless applications that were previously not possible with a single-chip solution. A new radio architecture with on-chip PA provides features -95-dBm RX sensitivity (at 1Mbps Bluetooth LE), a maximum output power of 8dBm, and a total link budget of 103dBm. The chip supports all the features of Bluetooth 5.2 (including 4x the range or 2x the raw data bandwidth (2Mbps)) compared with Bluetooth 4.2. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S140 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5.1-certified software protocol stack. The S140 SoftDevice offers concurrent Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, and supports high throughput and long-range modes as well as advertising extensions.


Juhi Fadia is an engineer, analyst, researcher and writer covering advanced and emerging technologies.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Correspondent

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