Low-power wristband features Bluetooth 5 contact tracing support - Embedded.com

Low-power wristband features Bluetooth 5 contact tracing support

Atmosic’s ultra-low-power Bluetooth connectivity wearable solution will be at the heart of the new TraceSafe AllSafe wristbands. The AllSafe Wristband will be distributed to all fans attending events hosted by the Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Football Club, the “Toronto Wolfpack,” at Lamport Stadium, as well as other Canadian rugby stadiums during the coming season.

The advent of Covid-19 has taken us all by surprise, and with the reopening of many activities and venues, there is an urgent need for a low-cost but, above all, highly efficient tracking and reporting system.

TraceSafe, together with Atmosic, decided to integrate the wireless innovator’s Bluetooth 5.0 based M2 solutions into each of the wristbands to enable reliable device-to-device connectivity for contact tracing. Bluetooth 5 has a higher signal range than version 4.2. Allowing a range of 100+ meters without obstacles, the new standard quadruples the supported distance to give users more mobility without having to worry about losing their connection.

The M2 system-on-chip (SoC) also features long-range connectivity to support implementations that connect to gateways.

“I personally believe that reopening the economy is quite important, but it is equally important to do it safely until the medical field has more reliable treatments and a vaccine is available to protect all of us,” said David Su, CEO at Atmosic Technologies. “Having a robust contract tracing system in place limits the number of people that we need to test whenever someone tests positive. While contact tracing phone apps are interesting, they also have limitations. For example, younger schoolchildren don’t always carry a phone on them. Nurses are unlikely to carry a phone while they are working, not to mention hospital patients. Plus, factory employees and many other workers aren’t able to use their phones while they’re on the job. So wearable devices can give you this additional coverage that phones can’t. We are actively working on this area as the demand grows for this type of solution.”

Battery life for wearable devices

The advent of the IoT has steered the market towards new and simple wearable solutions. Analysts estimate that about 40 billion devices will be available soon.

“This is a very, very large number,” commented Su. “And it’s actually happening as we speak. Over the last half year and looking forward to the next year, I see two categories of connected devices. One category is user applications. The other is looking at this from a technology point of view. When you consider user applications, there is definitely a growth of connected devices. This includes wearables, and Bluetooth in this case provides you with the last link before you get onto your cloud with backhaul such as Wi-Fi or cellular 5G. The second category of growth is more timely to this current situation: extending tracking devices to humans in terms of contact tracing, or even quarantine.”


M2 block diagram

Atmosic’s M2 was chosen by TraceSafe because of its support for long range connectivity up to 100 meters and its very low power consumption, enabling the AllSafe solution to be used for a wide variety of contact tracking systems. The M2 integrates innovative Atmosic Lowest Power Radio and On-demand Wake Up technologies, extending the battery life of IoT devices powered by small low voltage batteries by 18 months or more, and reducing or even eliminating the need for recharging or replacing batteries altogether.

The M2 Series offers flash and non-flash options, as well as 5 × 5 quad flat no-lead (QFN) and 6 × 6 dual-row QFN (DRQFN) packaging options. The power management unit is highly efficient at providing the core and I/O power for the SoC but it can also be bypassed if a power source is available elsewhere in the system.

Atmosic also offers M3 solutions that further extend the life of ultra-low power devices. M3 integrates advanced energy harvesting technology that captures energy from RF (radio frequency), photovoltaic energy from ambient light sources and kinetic energy, generated by motion.

RF energy sources can collect a wide range of frequencies, including 915 MHz and 2.4 GHz, generating up to 10 mW of energy. Independent RF and Bluetooth connections allow you to separate the RF source.

“RF is quite interesting,” said Su. “It’s almost magical. It’s the extension of wireless connectivity to wireless power. And the most common use case today is NFC/RFID. The other one that’s useful for wearable devices is thermal, because human body temperature tends to be, in most cases, higher than the ambient temperature, so that variation of energy harvesting can be useful for wearables.”

The Atmosic M3 Series SoC solutions are also based on Bluetooth 5 and enhanced with ultra-low-power radio and on-demand wake-up, but the M3 SoCs add controlled energy harvesting to allow battery-free operation of devices designed for the internet of things. Like the M2, the M3 Series offers flash and non-flash options as well as 5 × 5 QFN and 6 × 6 DRQFN packaging options.

Technology for the next future with Covid-19

TraceSafe and Atmosic solutions can be integrated into other wearable and sensor-based devices to advance health and safety, allowing companies to move to a new state of normality.


TraceSafe medical grade wearable technology provides hospitals, nursing homes and health facilitates with a data driven solution to stem the spread of Covid-19 safely, effectively and efficiently (Source: TraceSafe)

“What worries me is that we cannot stay at home forever,” said Su. “The Apple/Google setup for contact tracing is actually fairly decent in terms of privacy. And they have done a good job in configuring the tracing part with robust privacy, as well as optimizing battery life. However, they are limited by the fact that the system is on a phone, and a phone has to do many other things. We can definitely supplement their ecosystem with contact tracing wearables to help keep people safe. In some cases, like the Wolfpack example we announced, they want much more dense tracking, meaning that they want to do much more frequent tracking. In a very dense deployment environment like a stadium, where people gather very closely, it’s important to track contact events much more frequently.”

The turnkey solution offered by TraceSafe will help companies to open up again safely, offering a wearable solution for contact tracking, social distancing and position tracking that can quickly alert someone if they have come into close contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19. All this has been designed with privacy in mind as there is no personally identifiable information stored in the system.

>> This article was originally published on our sister site, EE Times Europe.

 

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