Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Candibell, a Boston, MA-based commerce automation platform developer, has selected Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the wireless connectivity for its ‘Candibell sensing modules’. The sensors are designed to provide brand owners and retailers with the ability to monitor and track usage of consumable products, as well as integrate automated replenishment services.
The sensing modules come in reusable as well as ‘one-time only’ models, while a range of different form factors enable them to be built-in to product packaging by the manufacturer, or attached to retail products. The modules integrate an accelerometer and gyroscope that continuously monitor the movement of a product package to detect a potential “consumption event” using Candibell’s proprietary algorithms. The nRF52832 SoC’s Arm® Cortex® M4 processor supports the Floating Point and Digital Signal Processing computations typical of high-end wireless applications enabling it to comfortably run the device’s motion signal processing before relaying the data using Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity to a dedicated ‘Candibell Hub’ gateway. In turn, the data is sent to the company’s Cloud platform where it is determined if the sequence of movement—for example if a pill container is inverted or a blister pack removed from its external packaging—looks like a valid consumption event.
This data provides vendors and brands with visibility of a customer’s comprehensive product usage data and consumption history in ‘real time’ via a web-based dashboard or application programming interface (API). They can also subscribe to a set of event data that enables them to implement additional automated e-commerce services, for example product replenishment. Candibell also provides an iOS and Android Software Development Kit (SDK) allowing vendors to integrate the data into their own smartphone apps to provide individuals, or their caregivers, with visibility of consumption data. For example, patients living independently with chronic diseases could use Candibell to provide caregivers and family members with the ability to remotely monitor their wellbeing, such as consumption of food, medication, and personal hygiene products.
The Candibell sensing modules can be powered by different batteries depending on the specific application. For example, the reusable sensors are powered by a CR2032 coin cell providing in excess of two years battery life before replacement. The one-time use module’s smaller coin cell can provide up to four weeks battery life, thanks in part to the ultra low power characteristics of the Nordic SoC. The nRF52832 has been engineered to minimize power consumption with features such as the 2.4GHz radio’s 5.5mA peak RX/TX currents and a fully-automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to 80 percent compared with Nordic’s nRF51 Series SoCs.
Nordic’s nRF52832 multiprotocol SoC combines the 64MHz, 32-bit processor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT™, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software) featuring -96-dB RX sensitivity, with 512kB Flash memory and 64kB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certifed RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S132 SoftDevice features Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, supports up to twenty connections, and enables concurrent role operation.
“The nRF52832 SoC was the ideal candidate for our sensing module because as well as being low cost, it is packed with a lot of computational power, a large memory capacity, and extremely low power consumption in standby mode,” says Eric Huang, President and CEO, Candibell. “All of these factors helped us to design a product that is cost effective, small, and battery efficient, making the product more competitive.
“Nordic’s comprehensive documentation, code examples, SDK, and powerful Nordic Thingy:52 development platform made fast prototyping extremely easy, greatly simplifying our job. All we needed to focus on was our own business logic.”