Bluetooth 5/Bluetooth LE wireless button enables connected home control at the push of a switch

Shortcut Labs wireless button

Shortcut Labs’ Flic 2 and Flic Hub LR employ Nordic’s nRF52811 SoC to trigger smart devices without accessing individual apps or using voice control

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Stockholm, Sweden-based Shortcut Labs, has selected Nordic’s nRF52811 Bluetooth® 5/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) to power its ‘Flic 2’ button and ‘Flic Hub LR’. The Flic 2 button enables a user to trigger functions on their Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphone or tablet, as well as any connected smart devices, with the press of a button, and without the need to access individual apps or provide voice commands. The addition of the Internet-connected Flic Hub LR means the buttons can be triggered by anyone in the absence of the primary user’s smartphone. 

In operation the buttons are paired to a Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity provided by the Nordic SoC. From the smartphone’s iOS or Android Flic app the user can customize each button to perform different actions based on three different triggers; a ‘push’, a ‘double push’, and a ‘hold’. For example, pushing the button once could turn on/off smart lights, pushing the button twice could play music from a smart speaker, while holding the button down could automatically trigger a smart power switch to start brewing coffee in the morning. There are over 1000  compatible devices and services available via the Flic app as well as integrations with services including IFTTT (if this then that), Microsoft Flow, and Zapier that enable users to create advanced action flows based on a single trigger.

The nRF52811 SoC running our proprietary code can handle 64 simultaneous connections and the Bluetooth 5 Long Range feature gives us very impressive range
Amir Sharifat, Shortcut Labs
The Flic Hub LR is an optional accessory to Flic and eliminates the need to connect the buttons to the smartphone. From early 2020 the hub will integrate Apple HomeKit capability, enabling buttons to be configured in the Apple Home app to control everything in the user’s Apple Home ecosystem. The Flic Hub LR also offers an infrared accessory enabling legacy control of TV and home entertainment systems.
The 8.5 by 30mm Flic 2 button can be adhered to any surface with a reusable suction cup or fitted in a rigid metal clip that can be mounted to a keyring or worn as a wearable. The nRF52811 SoC’s Bluetooth 5 Long Range capability provides the button with line-of-sight range up to 200m, and an indoor range of 50m. Flic 2 is powered by a replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery, providing a battery life of up to three years in standard operation between replacement, thanks in part to the ultra low operating characteristics of the Nordic SoC. The nRF52811 has been engineered to minimize power consumption with features such as the 2.4GHz radio’s 4.6mA peak RX/TX currents and a fully-automatic power management sy stem that reduces power consumption by up to 80 percent compared with Nordic’s nRF51 Series SoCs.
Nordic’s nRF52811 multiprotocol SoC is a fully-featured connectivity solution that supports Bluetooth 5.1 Direction Finding, which brings precise positioning capability to the SoC in addition to all the features of Bluetooth 5 (including Bluetooth Long Range, 2Mbps raw data bandwidth, and enhanced coexistence capabilities). The nRF52811 combines a 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor, with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5.1 Direction Finding, Bluetooth 5, Thread, Zigbee, IEEE 802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software) featuring 4 dBm output power with -97 dBm sensitivity (at 1 Mbps in Bluetooth 5 mode), and 192 kB Flash memory plus 24 kB RAM. 
The nRF52811 SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S112 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certified RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S112 SoftDevice features Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster and Observer Bluetooth LE roles and enables concurrent role operation.
“The nRF52811 SoC running our proprietary code can handle 64 simultaneous connections and the Bluetooth 5 Long Range feature gives us very impressive range,” says Amir Sharifat, Founder, Shortcut Labs. “Latency has been optimized to the point that for local control of a lightbulb or doorbell, for example, the response is basically instant.
“The nRF52811’s battery life, radio features, and price were also attractive, while the technical documentation provided during development was helpful.”