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Nordic Semiconductor launches world’s first ARM mbed development platform for Bluetooth Smart applications

Collaboration brings Bluetooth Smart development tools to the ARM mbed ecosystem enabling developers for rapid prototyping of wireless products

Oslo, Norway - 2014/02/24 - Nordic Semiconductor ASA and ARM announce the launch of the nRF51822-mKIT, a platform for fast, easy, and flexible development of Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth low energy, a hallmark element of Bluetooth v4.1) applications.

Whilst still in its infancy, the Internet of Things (IoT) is in part evolving by using Bluetooth Smart (see “About Bluetooth Smart” below) as an underpinning technology. Bluetooth Smart is rapidly being adopted for short-range wireless connectivity between compact, coin cell-powered accessories using RF sensors and smartphone ‘hubs’ supporting associated software applications (‘apps’).

According to consultants McKinsey & Company* the IoT comprises sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects linked through wired and wireless networks, using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet. The IoT forms an extension of the conventional Internet and will generate huge volumes of data flowing to computers for analysis and action. According to the company, when devices can both sense the environment and communicate, they become “tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly”.

The ARM mbed initiative is a collaborative industry project that plans to nurture the IoT. The initiative delivers tools and fundamental open-source hardware and software building blocks for the rapid development of ARM-based devices. The collaboration between Nordic Semiconductor and ARM has resulted in Nordic’s nRF51822 System-on-Chip (SoC) which combines a Bluetooth v4.1-compliant 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio with an ARM Cortex-M0 CPU core on a single chip optimized for ultra-low power operation. The nRF51822 Series (see “About nRF51822” below) offers developers the ideal platform for designing the wirelessly-connected sensors that will help turn the IoT from a technological concept into reality as the mechanisms to transfer IP data from sensor nodes begin to appear.

Simon Ford, Director of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, ARM said: “The platform from Nordic Semiconductor adds vital functionality for developers working on creating the next generation of ARM-based IoT products. Developers will be able to create a fully-functional prototype device with less effort. Allowing faster and more efficient development speeds up the time to market for thousands of new products that will be connecting people and businesses with the infrastructure around them.”

The nRF51822-mKIT simplifies and accelerates the prototyping process for Bluetooth smart sensors connecting to the IoT. The kit offers a high degree of flexibility and functionality from a compact package.

nRF51822-mKIT features include:

  • Nordic nRF51822 SoC combining Bluetooth v4.1-compliant 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio and ARM Cortex-M0 processor on a single chip optimized for ultra-low power operation
  • Bluetooth Smart API
  • 31 Pin-assignable GPIO;
  • CMSIS-DAP debugger;
  • Programmable Peripheral Interconnect (PPI);
  • Ability to run from a single 2032 coin-cell battery for in-situ testing of wireless performance.

Developers start using the nRF51822-mKIT within minutes of unpacking. Through mbed, the kit is supported by a cloud-based approach to writing code, adding libraries and compiling firmware. A lightweight online Integrated Development Environment (IDE) operates on all popular browsers running on Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, Android and Linux operating systems. Using the kit, developers can access a cloud-based ARM RVDS 4.1 compiler which both optimizes code size and performance.

The ARM Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS) supports the mbed C/C++ libraries and enable a high-level application programmer interface (API)-driven approach to code development. This frees developers from the intricacies of low-level peripheral details, improves productivity, encourages innovation and compresses project timescales.

“The cost, footprint and energy needs of Bluetooth Smart are miniscule – companies can add this technology to practically anything and completely transform an existing product or disrupt entire industries with new solutions. It’s the natural choice for developers looking to create the new generation of products that is making the Internet of Things a reality,” said Suke Jawanda, Bluetooth SIG CMO.

“As developers begin to reimagine what’s possible with wireless, they see the natural advantage in creating an intelligent, power efficient connection to billions of Bluetooth products in market today and likely in their customer’s hand already. According to ABI Research, there will be 3 billion annual shipments of BluetoothSmart products alone within the next 4 years and the partnership between Nordic and ARM is another example of how industry leaders are powering this growth.”

Bluetooth Smart is being developed such that it will become an integral part of the IoT, and is the perfect technology for wirelessly linking compact coin cell-powered sensors to Internet-connected hubs such as smartphones or Wi-Fi bridges,” says Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor’s Director of Sales & Marketing.

“It’s not hard to envisage a world where billions of Bluetooth smart sensors transfer data from people, machines, and the environment and report that information wirelessly to computers that can analyze and act on the data. As the IoT develops it will represent a significant lucrative opportunity for developers. The mbed initiative is helping Nordic, ARM and others deliver tools and silicon that make it much easier and much faster for engineers to exploit that opening. Additionally, being able to source the nRF51822-mKIT easily and at a low cost from our online store partners brings Bluetooth smart IoT development possibilities to everyone, globally”

The nRF51822-mKIT, together with the extensive features of the mbed ecosystem, will be demonstrated at the ARM booth (Hall 4-350) at Embedded World 2014 held in Nuremberg, Germany. Additionally, Nordic will give an introduction to the nRF51822-mKIT on its booth in the Norwegian Pavilion (booth #6H20 in Hall 6) at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona.

The nRF51822-mKIT will be available for pre-order from USD 59.95 through Nordic’s online store partners: Mouser, DigiKey, and Rutronik24. At this low price, the cost of entry into the world of Bluetooth Smart development for IoT is open to just about anyone.


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