Future Electronics – How the latest connectivity technology can open up opportunities for new applications and new products

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Connectivity and the Internet of Things are well supported today by manufacturers of RF components and modules, and of other types of connectivity components. This means that the task of embedding connectivity in end-product designs is readily enabled by the electronics supply chain.

But if the problem of how to connect devices is more easily solved than before, the question of why to connect them is perhaps more pressing than ever. How can OEMs make the connectedness of their products as valuable and important as possible to their customers?

The Future Electronics/Cypress Semiconductor Nebula development board is one of the ways in which OEMs can find an answer – the Nebula board is featured on page 21 of this issue. That is because it provides a platform for using the Cypress Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) application development environment. WICED is the only tool that gives a unified environment for developing connectivity applications for both Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth® connections.

The chipset on the Nebula board supports both these radio technologies. By developing on the WICED platform, designers can more quickly and easily integrate a suite of applications for a single end-product, such as a smart home gateway, which uses both radios. This development process is helped by the provision of sample applications in WICED for functions such as connecting to cloud services, audio-over-Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, sensors and beacons, and smart home gateways.

Another answer to the ‘why’ question is to enable new use cases or new functionality. Many companies are finding new ways to add value to their products through support for location-aware functions or services. In many cases this will be enabled by embedding a satellite positioning receiver in the end-product. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a module such as the EM75 from Sierra Wireless, described on page 16.

The primary function of the module is to provide cellular LTE (4G) connectivity to embedded devices. But the module also includes a GNSS receiver which can decode GPS, GLONASS and other satellite signals.

Some applications, however, will require location awareness indoors, where GNSS signals cannot be received. The technology for ultra-accurate indoor positioning is also available today: Decawave provides ultra- wideband radio ICs and modules that can triangulate multiple signals to produce an indoor position measurement accurate to ±10cm in three dimensions. Decawave products are available to buy today from Future Electronics.

Decawave is an example of the way in which RF and connectivity technology is changing rapidly and creating opportunities for new products, applications and even business models. The pages of this and future issues of FTM will provide the first look at the products available from Future Electronics that are making them possible.

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