Bluetooth Low Energy Smartphone App - Development in Minutes with TI’s SensorTag Kit

October 31, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) announced the availability of its Bluetooth® low energy SensorTag kit. With a downloadable SensorTag App, sample applications, and no required hardware or software expertise, the kit removes the barriers to entry for smartphone app developers who want to take advantage of the growing number of Bluetooth low energy-enabled smartphones and tablets. TI has integrated six sensors in the kit to enable countless applications such as health and fitness, educational tools, toys and remote controls, and mobile phone accessories that can be controlled by a consumer's smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Development is quick and simple. Developers unpack the SensorTag, download the free app to a smartphone, select a sample application, and demo an app in minutes using the SensorTag's sensors. This gives developers a viable starting point to making a smartphone "appcessory" prototype quickly using the CC2541Bluetooth low energy system-on-chip (SoC). The CC2541 is supported by TI's royalty-free BLE-Stack(TM) software, technical documents, reference designs and the TI E2E(TM) connectivity support community. An appcessory is a gadget that uses smartphone apps for control and monitoring. See the SensorTag and appcessory examples in action in this SensorTag video.

"For manufacturers, Bluetooth low energy enables a very simple and efficient way of connecting their application to the cloud through a smartphone, tablet or laptop. The SensorTag kit allows manufacturers to quickly and easily evaluate the benefits of adding Bluetooth low energy to their device or build new applications," said Oyvind Birkenes, general manager, Wireless Connectivity Solutions, TI.

The SensorTag kit is currently aimed at iOS-based applications. The iOS SensorTag App used in the evaluation process can be downloaded for free here. TI plans to provide SensorTag Apps and support for Android and Windows 8 as more Bluetooth low energy-enabled devices roll-out.

The SensorTag integrates six MEMS sensors from third parties including InvenSense (gyroscope), Kionix (accelerometer), Sensirion (humidity and temperature), TDK (barometer) as well as a magnetometer and TI's IR temperature sensor (TMP006). Additionally, several application developers have used the SensorTag to already deliver appcessories to market including Ace Sensor, Inc. and Byte Works, Inc.

The CC2541-based SensorTag kit complements TI's Bluetooth offering as TI's dual-mode Bluetooth solutions including the CC2564Bluetooth v4.0 dual-mode QFN device, BlueLink(TM) 7.0, WiLink(TM) 6.0, WiLink 7.0, and WiLink 8.0 solutions.

The SensorTag kit (CC2541DK-SENSOR) costs $25 and is available now on the TI eStore and from authorized distributors. The SensorTag will be demonstrated at electronica 2012 in Messe Munchen, Munich.

Dr. Jiwei Wang, CEO Ace Sensor, Inc. said, "In the next few years, sensors around us will be indispensable for our health, safety and comfort. At Ace Sensor, we think Bluetooth low energy is the key enabling technology for connected sensors. TI's CC254x chips provide the most complete development environment as well as a vibrant support community which allow us to develop our smart health monitoring solutions and bring them to market in the shortest time frame."

Mike Westerfield, president, Byte Works, Inc. commented, "The TI SensorTag is the perfect platform for both EE and software engineers to explore Bluetooth low energy. Our company specializes in custom and off-the-shelf technical software. We were able to quickly access the six sensors in TI's Bluetooth low energy SensorTag, putting three of them to use to record the flight of a model rocket -- a perfect application for education!"

Ali Foughi, vice president of marketing at InvenSense, Inc. said, "InvenSense is pleased to collaborate with TI and leverage our market-leading gyroscope technology in the Bluetooth low energy SensorTag development kit. We are witnessing the rapid growth of Motion Interface technology into a broad array of consumer, industrial and medical device categories. Increasingly, the integration of low-power wireless technologies with InvenSense MotionTracking(TM) devices will enable developers to create new product concepts with high-volume potential."

Paul Bryan, EVP of strategy and product management, Kionix stated, "Kionix is pleased to be included in the new TI SensorTag development kit. The CC2541 is the most advanced Bluetooth low energy device on the market and, combined with Kionix' low power accelerometers, allows developers to create new high performance products and applications that are more energy efficient than ever before. The SensorTag development kit will help unlock the creativity of designers and speed the development of many different sensor-based products."

Vincent Hess, product manager, Sensirion added, "Sensirion's integrated relative humidity and temperature sensor on TI's Bluetooth low energy SensorTag is a perfect contribution to meet the customer needs for personal health, a comfortable environment and energy efficiency. TI and Sensirion are enabling a wide range of applications such as in consumer products and gadgets, smart home applications, logistics and industrial solutions. The easy integration with TI products via digital I2C interface, the low power consumption and small size makes it a perfect match to TI Bluetooth technologies."

Armin Schober, VP of the MEMS business unit, TDK commented, "We are pleased to contribute our EPCOS T5400 digital pressure sensor to TI's Bluetooth low energy SensorTag. The T5400 is the smallest digital barometric pressure sensor on the market, and we developed it specifically for the needs of mobile devices and their accessories. The T5400 enriches apps in the fitness and outdoor domain, for example, heart rate monitors, running shoes or bicycle computers combined with an altimeter to track altitude changes. T5400 also improves indoor navigation without an available GPS signal."

Jason Cole, sensing product line manager, TI said, "The inclusion of the TMP006, contactless IR temperature sensor, in the SensorTag kit enables customers to create innovative temperature measurement applications previously not possible in consumer applications. Pairing the TMP006 with the CC2541, a cutting-edge Bluetooth low energy SoC, showcases two extremely power efficient devices that are critical to battery-powered end-equipment."