2.4GHz RF and Bluetooth low energy solutions for racing toys
Wireless - "changing the game" with toys
The convenience of wireless is a natural fit for the toy market but has until recently been hindered by the use of older, technologically-limited wireless technologies. The advent of 2.4 GHz wireless solutions has ushered in a new era for games and toys allowing for highly engaging and cost-effective products with substantially more features than was previously possible for the mass market. Additionally, the advent of ULP wireless connectivity in mobile devices using Bluetooth low energy (previously called Bluetooth Smart) opens up a whole new field for exciting toys that are controllable through the rich user-interface possibilities of today's smartphones and tablets.
Typical products in this segment are:
- RC racing cars and boats
- RC helicopters and planes
- Circuit racing games
- Train sets
- Educational toys
- Interactive puzzles/board games
- Smart creatures/Interactive pets
Quick start tools
Nordic offers the following reference designs to speed up product development:
|Reference Design||Bluetooth low energy||ANT||2.4GHz||Sensor feedback||2-way comms||Multiple co-located systems|
|nRFready R/C racing||x||x||x||x|
Please go to the nRF product pages that are linked from the device selector table further down to read about development tools and software support for each relevant nRF product.
Nordic competitive edge
Nordic Semiconductor's ultra-low power (ULP) wireless solutions are an attractive alternative to the older and technologically limited traditional wireless technologies used in toys – such as IR and 27/47MHz – by providing a competitive price point combined with a unique set of advantages:
- Over-The-Air Device Firmware Update (OTA-DFU)
- Mobile device connectivity - Using Bluetooth low energy, toys can connect to smartphones and tablets
- Multi-protocol SoCs - Single-chip solutions capable of running more than one protocol on-chip including Bluetooth low energy
- Ultra-low power consumption - Average operational currents in the mA range offer lengthy periods of usage from standard AA/AAA batteries
- Race against your friends – No more changing crystals to race against your friends, Nordic 2.4 GHz RF enables multiple wireless toys to co-exist without interference
- Small size and weight – Single chip solutions, small and efficient 2.4 GHz antennas, and smaller batteries all combine to enable miniaturized wireless toy designs
- Range – Outdoor line-of-sight range without large antennas, and no daylight interference issues that can be a problem with IR
- Bi-directional communication – Enabling new and innovative features like crash feedback on remote controlled cars and other racing toys
- Wireless PC connectivity– Enhances toys through downloadable content and new game play features delivered through wireless connectivity to PCs/Macs
- Attractive price point – Single chip solutions with low cost external Bill of Materials (BoM) supporting entry-level product pricing
The nRF51 Series are flash-based SoCs, as such they represent the most flexible solution available. A key feature of the nRF51 Series and their associated software architecture and S-Series SoftDevices is the possibility for Over-The-Air Device Firmware Update (OTA-DFU). See fig. 1. This allows firmware updates to be issued and downloaded to products in the field via the cloud. This enables OEMs to fix bugs and introduce new features to products that are already out in the marketplace. This brings added security and flexibility to product development when using the nRF51 Series SoCs.
Nordic offers the following wireless technologies for toys
2.4GHz RF Proprietary
If you have very specific application demands and no requirements for interoperability through standards such as Bluetooth low energy or ANT, then proprietary protocols sometimes provide the best alternative. When this is the case, 2.4 GHz proprietary solutions often offer the greatest flexibility, best power consumption, and lowest Bill of Material. Nordic provide blank System on Chip IC's where you can interface the radio directly.
Alternatively, the Gazell wireless protocol from Nordic, is a freely distributed, simple to use, low-power protocol developed for use with Human Interface Devices (HID) peripherals. Gazell is designed for systems that have asymmetrical power consumption requirements where a central hub may have relatively relaxed power demand requirements while communicating with a number of peripheral devices that have much more stringent power efficiency needs. HID applications include mouse, keyboard, remote controls, presenters, and drawing tablets.
Bluetooth low energy
Bluetooth low energy is an exciting technology that is becoming a standard feature in mobile devices. Bluetooth low energy Ready devices form the hub of our personal area networks, these include smartphones and tablets as well as dedicated hub products. Bluetooth low energy devices are the peripheral sensors that typically capture data and relay data to and from the hubs. Bluetooth low energy profiles are already available for a range of different applications.
For more information about Bluetooth low energy, visit www.bluetooth.org
Nordic IC offering
The nRF51 Series is Nordic's latest generation of ULP wireless System on Chip IC's that again sets the benchmark in this field. The nRF51 Series is based on the 32 bit ARM Cortex-M0 CPU and Nordics leading multiprotocol radio and supports Bluetooth low energy, ANT, and 2.4 GHz proprietary solutions. Across the range pin-compatibility allows for drop-in replacement of device types where application requirements differ with no requirement for redesign of circuit layout. The innovative software architecture ensures an absolute separation between application code and protocol stacks, and enables you to maintain one code base for products using the different wireless technologies.
The nRF24L Series SoCs are among the most commonly-found solution ULP wireless devices in the consumer market today. Based on an enhanced 8051 CPU and Nordic's radio technology, the nRF24L Series SoCs represent an extremely popular, cost-effective, and proven choice for consumer product development.
Device Selector Table for Toys
|Device||Bluetooth low energy||ANT||2.4GHz||Multi-protocol capable||32-bit CPU||8-bit CPU||Series pin-compatible||nRF24L Series compatible||USB||Flash||OTP|