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Posts Tagged ‘Nordic Semiconductor’

Driving To the Shops with Graphics and Bluetooth

Monday, January 29th, 2018

The car’s the star this week, as bloggers look to upgrade models, examine the safety systems, and look at how to use graphics. Other posts concentrate on retail therapy and how Bluetooth can help warehouses manage stock and processes

There’s only 330 days shopping days until Christmas, and Intel’s Ryan Parker’s blog could change how those days pan out as retail is redefined with IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital signage combined with video to make the shopping experience to not only meet customer demands, but changing supply chains too.

Examining the backbone of automotive safety systems, Sandeep Taneja, Synopsys, presents an informed and well-illustrated post on what is needed and for what purpose in safety conscious vehicles.

Graphics double data rate (GDDR) memory has evolved to exceed the realm of gamers and is now used in vehicles. A blog by Rambus charts the changes and benefits of graphics technology for both inside and outside the car, and how it can be used in other markets.

The spread of the industrial IoT brings opportunities for warehouses of the future, writes Torbjørn Øvrebekk, Nordic Semiconductor. He looks at what the Bluetooth Mesh standard will mean and the benefits it will bring for networks and energy useage.

Corrie Callenbach, Cadence, has identified a great video hosted by Nick Heaton, distinguished engineer, Cadence, describing the verification challenges for SoCs when integrating CCIX (Cache Coherent Chip-to-Chip Protocol) IP.

Aligning CAD to a car leads an anonymous blogger at Altium to reminisce about old cars owned, cared for, restored, driven and abandoned when adulthood beckoned and manages to make a comparison with upgrading to the 64-bit world where PCB designers now live and work. Nostalgia mixes with practical tips on scaling up.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

A review from CES, and looking ahead to 2018; How the IoT will develop in industry and prototyping; Autonomous driving research; the value of HBM

Research commissioned by Arm around the road to autonomous vehicles is detailed in a blog by Andy Moore. He provides a link to a white paper that touches on the state of ADAS today and what the industry is doing to develop robotaxis and autonomous driving.

After a weather and travel round-up, Paul McLellan, Cadence, highlights some of the news from CES 2018. He alights on automotive and the car designed by Dream Chip and Globalfoundries in the company’s suite and highlights from vehicle manufacturers and semiconductor companies. He also takes in a 5G keynote, TVs, augmented reality, holographs, drones, 3D printing and welcomes robots.

There are many ideas for the IoT, and how to prototype them, with dwindling ranks of hardware and software developers, is perplexing Pär Håkansson, Nordic Semiconductor. He proposes a web-based platform to ‘plug the gaps’ and the company’s own Thingy:52 and nRF Cloud to configure IoT prototypes.

For centuries, people have wanted to know what the future holds. Some mystics have attempted to predict what is to come, some with more success than others. IHS Markit limits itself to identifying transformative technologies for this year. The checklist is analysed in a white paper that can be loaded free of charge.

Another soothsayer is Chet Hellum, Intel, who is not exactly sticking his neck when he says the IoT is going to be big in 2018. His blog looks at how the IoT will drive manufacturing trends in 2018 and the benefits investments can bring to a smart factory.

The role of memory in high bandwith graphics, high performance computing and artificial intelligence will present verification challenges. Shaily Khare, Synopsys examines the structure and strengths of High Bandwith Memory (HBM), the enhancements of HBM2 and how to exploit its properties.

By Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday, June 12th, 2017

This week, we find traffic systems for drones and answers to the questions ‘What’s the difference between safe and secure?’ and ‘Can you hear voice control calling?’

An interesting foray into semantics is conducted by Andrew Hopkins, ARM, as he looks at what makes a system secure and what makes a system safe and can the two adjectives be interchanged in terms of SoC design? (With a little plug for ARM at DAC later this month.)

It had to happen, a traffic system designed to restore order to the skies as commercial drones increase in number. Ken Kaplan, Intel, looks at what NASA scientists and technology leaders have come up with to make sense of the skies.

Voice control is ready to bring voice automation to the smart home, says Kjetil Holstad, Nordic Semiconductor. He highlights a fine line of voice-activation’s predecessors and looks to the future with context-awareness.

More word play, this time from Tom De Schutter, Synopsys, who discusses verification and validation and their role in prototyping.

Tackling two big announcements from Mentor Graphics, Mike Santarini, looks at the establishment of the outsourced assembly and test (OSAT) Alliance program, and the company’s Xpedition high-density advanced packaging (HDAP) flow. He educates without patronizing on why the latter in particular is good news for fabless companies and where it fits in the company’s suite of tools. He also manages to flag up technical sessions on the topic at next month’s DAC.

Reporting from IoT DevCon, Christine Young, Maxim Integrated, highlights the theme of security in a connected world. She reviews the presentation “Shifting the IoT Mindset from Security to Trust,” by Bill Diotte, CEO of Mocana, and In “Zero-Touch Device Onboarding for IoT,” by Jennifer Gilburg, director of strategy, Internet of Things Identity at Intel. She explores a lot of the pitfalls and perils with problem-solving.

Anticipating a revolution in transportation, Alyssa, Dassault Systemes, previews this week’s Movin’On in Montreal, Canada, with an interview with colleague and keynote speaker, Guillaume Gerondeau, Senior Director Transportation and Mobility Asia. He looks at how smart mobility will impact cities and how 3D virtual tools can make the changes accessible and acceptable.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, September 28 2015

Monday, September 28th, 2015

ARM Smart Design competition winners; Nordic Semiconductor Global Tour details; Emulation alternative; Bloodhound and bridge-building drones; Imagination Summit in Taiwan; Monolithic 3D ‘game changer’; Cadence and collaboration; What size is wearable technology?

Winners of this year’s ARM Smart Product Design competition had no prior experience of using ARM tools, yet managed, in just three months to produce a sleep Apnea Observer app (by first prize winner, Clemente di Caprio), an amateur radio satellite finder, a water meter, an educational platform for IoT applications and a ‘CamBot’ camera-equipped robot, marvels, Brian Fuller, ARM.

This year’s Nordic Semiconductor Global Tech Tour will start next month, and John Leonard, ARM has details of how to register and more about this year’s focus – the nRF52 Series Bluetooth Smart SoC.

Offering an alternative to the ‘big box’ emulation model, Doug Amos, Aldec, explains FPGA-based emulation.

Justin Nescott, Ansys, has dug out some great stories from the world of technology, from the UK’s Bloodhound project and the sleek vehicle’s speed record attempt; and a story published by Giz Mag about how drones created a bridge – with video proof that it is walkable.

A review of the 2015 Imagination Summit in Taiwan earlier this month is provided by Vicky Hewlett. The report includes some photos from the event, of attendees and speakers at Hsinchu and Taipei.

It is with undeniable glee that Zvi Or-Bach, MonolithIC 3D announces that the company has been invited to a panel session titled: “Monolithic 3D: Will it Happen and if so…” at IEEE 3D-Test Workshop Oct. 9th, 2015. It is not all about the company, but a discussion of the technology challenge and the teaser of the unveiling of a ‘game changer’ technology.

A review of TSMC Open Innovation Platform (OIP) Ecosystem Forum, earlier this month, is presented in the blog by Christine Young, Cadence. There are some observations from Rick Cassidy, TSMC North America on Thursday, on automotive, IoT and foundry collaboration.

How big is wearable, ponders Ricardo Anguiano, Mentor Graphics. Unwrapping a development kit, he provides a link to Nucleus RTOS and wearable devices to help explain what’s wearable and what’s not.

A brief history of Calypto Design Systems, recently acquired by Mentor Graphics, is discussed by Graham Bell, RealIntent, and what the change of ownership means for existing partners.

Beginning a mini series of blogs about the HAPS-80 with ProtoCompiler, Michael Posner, Synospys, begins with a focus on the design flow and time constraints. He provides many helpful illustrations. (The run-on piece about a visit to the tech museum in Shanghai shows how he spends his free time: seeking out robots!)

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Wearable Wireless Tackle Old and New Apps

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

By Dave Bursky, Contributing Editor

At CES, smart watches, networked glasses and fitness products highlighted the need for low power, connectivity and data algorithms and control.

At this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it felt like someone was showing off some form of wearable wireless electronic product – smart watches, networked glasses, fitness products, etc.

Smart phones are also playing into the wearable market by acting as a nexus point for many of the products. Pairing a product or multiple products to an Apple iPhone or iPad, or an Android-based phone or tablet using Bluetooth® or WiFi links enables the phone or tablet collect and analyze the data. Smart watches are also being paired with sensors and with the smart phone or tablet, allowing the watch to provide on-the-fly updates from sports activities or serve as a remote link that notifies the user about an incoming email, SMS message or telephone call.

There are now probably close to two dozen vendors offering or have announced plans to offer smartwatch devices. One of the latest introductions is the STB-1000 from Casio,   which uses a Bluetooth low-energy 4.0 wireless link to connect with an Apple iPhone (Figure 1). The watch can check and display fitness data such as running pace and distance, elapsed time, pulse, cycling speed and pedal rotations from popular mobile applications as well as provide typical watch functions, control the phone’s music player, deliver notifications of incoming email, and more. External sensors to monitor heart rate and running cadence are needed to capture the necessary data. In addition to its fitness display capabilities, the STB-1000 offers all of the essential functions of a timepiece, including time display, daily alarms and a countdown timer.

Figure 1: The Casio STB-1000 smart watch links to an Apple iPhone using a Bluetooth low-energy wireless link and can display various personal fitness data activities such as running pace and distance, elapsed time, pulse, cycling speed and pedal rotations (separate sensors for heart rate and running cadence are needed).

Epson has also introduced several wearable bio sensing products – the PS-500 smart watches and the PS-100 fitness bands,which are part of the new Pulsenseproduct line (Figure 2). Additionally, the company also demonstrated its Swing sensing technology with a “golf swing analyzer”. The Pulsense fitness band and smartwatch detect continuous heart rate directly from the wrist (without a chest strap) and leverages an Epson-designed heart-rate sensing module that is both accurate and compact.  The sensor measures the amount of light reflected from red blood cells and records a single heart beat when the amount of light reflected changes due to a drop in red blood cell count as the blood vessel contracts.  A microns-thick blocking filter and multi-layer reflective coating help minimize the effect of ambient light interference while improving heart-rate detection accuracy.

Figure 2: The PS-500 smartwatch (left) and PS-100 fitness band (right) from Epson employ a novel sensing scheme that can measure heart rate without the use of a chest strap or other attachment.

The combination of the company’s proprietary sensor and patented algorithms with an accelerometer enables Pulsense to, for instance, use real-time heart-rate data to determine calories burned based on personal biometrics in addition to activity levels, gender, age and weight.

Additionally, with built-in memory, Pulsense can store up to 480 hours of heart-rate data before having to transfer data to a smart phone app or computer.  Last but not least, Epson’s proprietary processor chip offers fast data processing, space-saving footprint, and efficient power usage for improved battery life performance. The PS-500 watch will be shipping this summer and has a suggested retail price of $199.00, while the PS-100 will sell for $129.

There are plenty of other players in the smart watch arena – companies such as Polar, Magellan, and EFUN are just a few of the players. Both Polar and Magellan have sports-oriented solutions. The Polar V800, a waterproof watch, can monitor and analyze many different sports activities and incorporates a GPS receiver and 24/7 activity tracking, and even packs a barometric pressure sensor to monitor altitude. It can track heart rate underwater while swimming, provide analysis and insights through a web service and the company’s Polar Flow application. The company has also released a simplified bracelet it calls the Polar Loop (Figure 3, left). Also waterproof, the bracelet has an LED display, lasts for up to five days on a rechargeable battery, provides time of day, links to systems using a Bluetooth interface and has a non-board memory capable of storing up to 12 days of activities.

Figure 3: The Polar Loop bracelet offers users an LED display, needs recharging every five days, and can link via a Bluetooth LE wireless interface to a smartphone (left). The Echo Smart sports watch from Magellan comes in various colors and provides Bluetooth connectivity to link the watch to your Smartphone. The watches are available with or without a Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor (right).

In contrast, the Magellan Echo Smart Sports Watch was designed as an open platform and can work with any application that can leverage a ruggedized smartwatch in several colors (Figure 3, right). The watch leverages the power of both a smartphone and sports-related apps. It uses Bluetooth Smart to connect a smartphone and watch, putting the power of a smartphone right on the user’s wrist. An ARM® Cortex®-M3 runs the watch while a Bluetooth chip from Nordic Semiconductor provides the communications, and ST Micro supplies the accelerometer. Echo is compatible today with the iPhone 4S, 5, 5C and 5S.  Android support is coming in early 2014.

The NextONE smartwatch from EFUN was designed to integrate with a user’s favorite smartphone applications and uses Android 4.1 to provide an open architecture. The watch uses Bluetooth 4.0 to link to the smartphone and can display incoming calls, text messages, email alerts, and lets users generate a health and fitness profile. Expected to be available in the first quarter, the suggested retail price is just under $100.

Additional smart watch suppliers include Ezio Lifestyle (, which offers smartwatches and Bluetooth enabled jewellery that connects to smartphones; Connected Device, which has two families, the Cookoo connected watches for smartphones, and the Cogito smartwatches; and Wellograph.  The Cookoo series combines digital communications technology and analog watch movement and will provide notifications regarding incoming calls, email, text messages, social media alerts, and remote controls for the smartphone’s camera, music player, and video player. Similar features are available on the Cogito family. Both series incorporate Bluetooth 4.0 LE and use a button-cell battery that powers the watches for up to 1 year.

Last but not least of the newcomers, the Wellograph Wellness watch provides a complete readout of your health – your pulse, fitness, workouts, steps, and host of other wellness information. The watch employs a tri-LED heart-rate sensor, Bluetooth LE for linking to a smartphone, a rechargeable battery the can power the watch for two weeks (3 months in watch-only mode) and enough storage to hold a 4-month record of activities. Prototypes of more smart watches based on MIPS cores were visible at Imagination Technology’s booth. Dubbed the GeakWatch, the smart watches can link to smartphones or tablets via a Bluetooth LE interface and provide notifications of incoming mail or phone calls or control the music player, as well as provide various physical activity indicators.

Putting together a reference design, Movea (, in collaboration with Texas Instruments and Xm-Squared has demonstrated its G-series multisport wearable solution. The energy-optimized design delivers accurate activity tracking and advanced sports and sleep monitoring. The reference design leverages Movea’s sensor-hub solution that delivers a better than 95% success rate on activity detection, accurate step counting, and excellent sleep analysis, closely mirroring results from a polysomnography. The reference design kit includes a complete application programming interface, integrating Movea’s motion-sensing expertise with its Motionsport embedded library, TI’s Bluetooth low-energy wireless solution, and Xm-Squared’s wristband design.

Smart glasses, made popular by the Google Glass prototype product, are also popping up from many suppliers. The Epson Moverio BT-200 offers a true binocular display using a miniaturized LCD-based projection lens system and optical light guide in each side of the glasses (Figure 4). The LCD projection system incorporates unique light-guide angles to prevent other people from viewing the projected content. The binocular optical system has a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels (quarter HD) and projects see-through overlays of digital content onto the real-world in the center of the smart glasses’ field of view.

Figure 4: The Moverio BT200 binocular smart glasses from Epson can deliver 3D images using an LCD-based projection system with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a 23-degree field of view.

Sensors include a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetic compass and they enable head-motion tracking for gaming and hands-free navigation. A front-facing camera enables image and video capture as well as marker detection for augmented reality applications that give users relevant information related to the real world. The glasses enable a seamless blend of the physical and the digital world and make a new world of augmented reality applications possible for consumers as well as commercial enterprises.

Unlike the Google Glass which has the battery and touch control built into the glasses, the Moverio BT-200 employs an external battery pack/controller that runs the Android 4.0 operating system, contains both WiFi and Bluetooth interfaces, a microSD memory card slot, and a touch controller. The battery pack provides up to six hours of continuous use.  The company expects to ship the Moverio BT-200 smart glasses in March and the glasses will have an MSRP of $699.99.

Another newcomer, ORCAM, mounts a camera on a glasses frame to help compensate for lost visual abilities. The camera, in combination with real-time computer vision algorithms, responds to gestures, reads text (text to speech conversion), and recognizes objects and scenarios (Figure 5). It speaks what it sees through a bone-conduction microphone in the earpiece. A separate battery-pack and processing subsystem fits easily in a shirt pocket or purse.

Figure 5: Combining a camera with powerful vision processing algorithms, designers at ORCAM crafted smart glasses that can aid vision-impaired individuals. The glasses include a bone-conduction speaker in the earpiece that supports the text-to-speech conversion and other features.

Also new to the market, Glassup, has developed a wearable display for augmented reality, real-time information access, and email/text/facebook/tweet notifications. Offering a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, the display is projected through a set of miniature lenses and mirrors onto the inside of one main glasses lens (Figure 6). The system also packs an accelerometer, compass, ambient light sensor and Bluetooth 4.0 LE to link to the smartphone. A touchpad with multiple controls is also incorporated into the projection subsystem. The glasses, like most of the others, depend on the availability of a smartphone to respond to any incoming messages.

Figure 6: The active glasses from Glassup pack an accelerometer, compass, ambient light sensor and Bluetooth connectivity. The patented optical system provides a 320 x 240-pixel display that is controlled via a touchpad built into the display subsystem.

These early designs will be further optimized by increasing the level of integration, reducing power consumption, improving resolution, and the addition of more sensors to provide multiple inputs.

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