Nordic Semi provides wireless for environmental sensor
Developed by Canadian startup, Wimoto, and employing Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 SoCs, these so-called ‘Motes’ can measure various physical parameters (typically in combination) including temperature, soil moisture, humidity, ambient light, movement, proximity, water leaks, and temperature (contact and non-contact), which can all be monitored remotely from a Bluetooth Smart Ready smartphone, tablet, or computer. Wimoto claims that its sensors incorporate industrial-grade sensor technologies that wouldn’t usually be found in consumer-targeted products
Wimoto Technologies specified Nordic’s nRF51822 System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide Bluetooth Smart wireless connectivity between iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, and computers, and Wimoto’s ‘Mote’ environmental sensors, interfacing seamlessly with a free Wimoto app over a range of up to 35m, and run for up to three years from a coin cell (CR2450) battery.
Motes are weather-proof and measure 35 x 35 x 15 mm and so according to Wimoto can be placed just about anywhere to measure (including alarm when a user-set threshold is crossed) their selected variables. Products currently available include ‘Wimoto Climate’ for measuring temperature, humidity, and light levels for environmental monitoring (e.g. humidors, baby’s rooms and basements); ‘Wimoto Grow’ for measuring when plants need watering (outdoor or indoor); ‘Wimoto Thermo’ for remotely measuring the temperature of an object it’s pointed at – such as water (pools), food, or exotic pets – using non-contact IR thermal technology; ‘Wimoto Sentry’ for detecting external (human or object – e.g. post arriving) movement via non-contact IR movement technology and internal movement via a built-in accelerometer; and a ‘Cloud Cube’ gateway that provides unattended, autonomous monitoring of Wimoto sensors and real-time alerts via the Internet or cellular network (due for release Q3 this year).
Industrial-grade sensor technologies include a MEMS-technology automotive-grade climate control sensor typically employed in higher-end in-car climate control systems, and a light sensor capable of measuring sub-1 lux to 65,000 lux.
Wimoto says it was able to achieve this financially as a startup by using crowdfunding to attract a large and supportive customer based that quickly reached a critical "commercially-viable mass" and told the company what two or three features of each sensor product mattered most to them (helping to further maximise the likelihood of sales success).
"Consumers benefit from industrial-grade accuracy and reliability, and industry users can use our sensors for a fraction of the cost of comparable professional B2B [Business-to-Business] solutions," says Marc Nicholas, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Wimoto, who specified the nRF51822 [because], "People want very long battery life by which I mean being able to ‘set-up’ and ‘forget’ their wireless sensor devices," continues Nicholas. "..[the IC offering]…ultra low power consumption (down to sub-10mA peak currents), solid RF performance of -92.5dB Rx sensitivity in Bluetooth low energy mode; up to +4dBm output power in all modes; plus up to 9.5dBm improvement in link budget compared to previous generations of class-leading Nordic chips, and…. the in-built 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 based processor… at a mass-market pricing level."
Nicholas says as the Mote application software does not require all of the nRF51822’s 128 kB standard Flash memory (a 256 kB option is also available), Wimoto was able to use the leftover space for a data-logger feature whereby the nR51822 SoC wakes up every 15 minutes and records sensor information. When the user returns, they can then upload this data-log to their Bluetooth Smart Ready device.
The Wimoto sensors are available now from Amazon in the U.S. and Canada with a RRP of $49 and will come to Europe and Asia via distributors shortly. A toolkit is also available that allows consumers and professional developers to write their own software and develop their own apps for the Motes.
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