Nordic Semiconductor And Joybien Collaborate To Bring Bluetooth Smart Wireless Connectivity To Toy Sector
Joybien's model car demonstrator shows how toy makers can bridge the gap between 2.4GHz proprietary remote control and the lucrative Bluetooth v4.0-based appcessory market
Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA recently announces a design partnership with Taiwanese original design manufacturer (ODM) Joybien intended to accelerate the development of low-cost wirelessly controlled "appcessories" for the toy sector. The partnership builds on Joybien's expertise in remote controlled toys and Nordic's leadership in Bluetooth low energy wireless connectivity.
The latest generation of smartphones such as Apple's iPhone 4S and 5 include support for Bluetooth v4.0 (which embraces Bluetooth low energy as a hallmark feature). Allied to downloadable apps, such smartphones can be used to wirelessly communicate with a range of accessories such as heart rate monitors, bike speed & cadence combo sensors, and blood glucose meters, dramatically extending the market for compact, coin cell-powered wireless devices using Bluetooth low energy. The combination of app and accessory has opened up a new sector, called "appcessories".
Partnering with Nordic Semiconductor, Joybien has manufactured a model car demonstrator to illustrate how toy makers can bridge the gap between 2.4GHz proprietary remote control and the lucrative Bluetooth v4.0-based appcessory market - without increasing costs in what is a very price-sensitive sector.
The demonstrator - first shown at the giant Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas in the second week of January - comprised an iPhone and a 1:14 scale Lamborghini Reventon Roadster. Using an app from the Apple App Store running on the smartphone, the toy Lamborghini was wirelessly remotely controlled around the exhibition floor.
The iPhone employs a Bluetooth v4.0 chip and is Bluetooth Smart Ready, ensuring it is interoperable with any Bluetooth Smart-qualified product. The Bluetooth smart Lamborghini is equipped with a Nordic nRF51822 Bluetooth low energy/2.4GHz proprietary multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) (see "About nRF51822" below). A Bluetooth low energy radio is a prerequisite for a Bluetooth Smart product. (See "About Bluetooth low energy" below.)
The Bluetooth low energy radio control application used by Joybien is among several Nordic Semiconductor sample applications for smartphones that provide developers with an ideal starting point and ready-built design framework to accelerate development of Bluetooth Smart wireless connectivity appcessories. These applications complement Nordic's Bluetooth Smart solutions to offer a complete end-to-end product development solution, compatible with Bluetooth v4.0.
The nRF51822 allows toy manufacturers to bring products to market that can simultaneously and adaptively support Bluetooth low energy and 2.4GHz proprietary wireless technology in the same product form factor, using identical data formats over the wireless link to minimize design complexity, and without requiring any firmware changes. This offers developers a high level of commercial protection against future consumer technology trends by allowing them to offer a maximum range of alternative options to their customers.
"Nordic's partnership with Joybien demonstrates how the nRF51822 provides the perfect bridge between low-cost 2.4GHz proprietary radio control systems - that are currently typical of the remote control toy market - and the interoperability promised by Bluetooth Smart," says Geir Langeland, Director of Sales & Marketing for Nordic Semiconductor. "But perhaps more importantly, the nRF51822, allied to our remote control sample application, also provides a bridge between two very important market segments, toys and appcessories."
"Joybien has wide experience of the proprietary radio remote control toy market," says Larry Hsieh, CEO of Joybien. "However, when we wanted to develop a product using Bluetooth low energy we knew we needed to partner with an expert in this new technology. And there is no better expert than a company that was instrumental in the development of the Bluetooth low energy specification and has followed that up with the launch of an easy-to-design in Bluetooth low energy SoC, the nRF51822."
Nordic was at the forefront of the group that defined the Bluetooth low energy specification since becoming a founding member of Nokia's Wibree Alliance in 2006 (the Alliance became part of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) in June 2007). Nordic contributed decades of expertise - gained in producing successive generations of class-leading proprietary and interoperable ULP wireless connectivity solutions within a field it pioneered.
SOURCE: Nordic Semiconductor