Design Con 2015

TI takes Apple's iBeacon beyond consumer apps with its SimpleLink MCUs

April 23, 2014

Bernard Cole-April 23, 2014

Texas Instruments has just announced support for Apple's iBeacon technology across its Bluetooth and SimpleLink wireless controller familiies, a move that could  bring various iPad, IPod and iPhone mobile devices into the mainstream of manufacturing, retail asset tracking, building automation, automotive and industrial factory systems.

It will be part of a portfolio that includes Bluetooth Smart with SimpleLink CC2541 and CC2543 wireless MCUs, Bluetooth dual mode with the SimpleLink CC2564 , and the BL6450Q automotive connectivity device as well as its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo using WiLink 8 and WiLink 8Q for automotive connectivity.

To support this move, TI has launched a new location app, with iBeacon technology, for the CC2541-based SimpleLink SensorTag development kit, as well as a new low cost, small form-factor broadcaster reference design based on the CC2543. The CC2543 is a low-cost version of CC2541 optimized for beacons and broadcast applications.

iBeacon is an indoor positioning technology introduced by Apple with its iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth low energy and geofencing to provide apps with micro-location awareness in such consumer oriented apps as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores.

"Restaurants, retailers and even sports stadiums have started using iBeacon technology," said Oyvind Birkenes, general manager, Wireless Connectivity Solutions, TI, "but there are many more applications that could benefit from the technology. Everything from asset trackers, retail, building automation systems, automotive and industrial applications, and a wide variety of consumer electronics."

To accelerate its adoption in these new applications has made available a new SensorTag location app with iBeacon technology available to download on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

"The app allows you to upload a floor plan and 'place' SensorTags to easily set up your own indoor positioning system," said Birkenes. "The app provides feedback on how near you are to the SensorTags and can launch a user-specified URL when you are in the immediate vicinity of a SensorTag. Additionally, existing SensorTags can be updated with the latest SensorTag App through an over-the-air upgrade to be compatible with iBeacon technology."

TI is also introducing a coin cell-sized, low cost and low-power broadcaster reference design that enables fast volume production of devices with iBeacon technology based on the SimpleLink CC2543. Manufacturers can also get a head start with the SensorTag reference design, which is FCC-certified and is compatible with iBeacon technology.

The TI broadcaster reference design based on the SimpleLink CC2543 with iBeacon technology includes Gerbers, schematics, layout, and Bbill of materials

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