Alibaba Cloud smart pin enabled safe socialization between media personnel at Tokyo Olympics

Alibaba Cloud Pin

The Nordic nRF52840 SoC-powered Alibaba Cloud Pin allowed wearers to track their steps, connect with friends and customize their own digital nametag

Nordic Semiconductor has collaborated with Alibaba to complete an innovative design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Alibaba integrates technological innovation with Olympic culture, independently launching the world’s first digital Olympic pin. Based on a Cloud service platform and IoT technology, the ‘Alibaba Cloud Pin’ wearable employs Nordic’s nRF52840 Bluetooth® 5.2/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the core processing power and wireless connectivity.

Built on the tradition of exchanging pins and buttons that dates to the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, the Alibaba Cloud Pin is said to be the first ever digital and Cloud-connected pin, and was distributed to media working at this year’s pandemic-delayed Games in Tokyo. 

Wearable connectivity

The Alibaba Cloud Pin features a 30mm transflective LCD screen that acts as a digital name tag and personalized business card, displaying the wearer’s name and unique artwork designs inspired by Olympic events. It also includes a step counting feature enabling users to track their daily activity as they move from venue to venue, as well as encouraging socially-distanced connection as two devices can be touched together at arm’s length to allow users to share their profiles and ‘achievements’ with one another using the Nordic SoC’s Bluetooth LE capability.

The Alibaba Cloud Pin is said to be the first ever digital and Cloud-connected pin

The step counter data can be viewed either on the device itself or via the ‘Alibaba Cloud Pin app’ on the user’s Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphone. From the app the wearer can also view the list of people they’ve connected with and compare step counts to create friendly competition. There are also incentives for increased socialization, for instance every time the user adds five new connections they can unlock one new artwork, and they can receive awards for connecting with certain numbers of friends.

Minimize power consumption

The device provides a battery life of 36 hours between recharge, thanks in part to the ultra low power consumption of the Nordic SoC. The nRF52840 has been engineered to minimize power consumption with a fully-automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to 80 percent compared with the nRF51 Series. 

Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC combines a 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5.2, Long Range, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, Zigbee, ANT™, IEEE 802.15.4, NFC, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software), with 1MB Flash memory and 256kB RAM. The Dynamic Multiprotocol feature uniquely supports concurrent wireless connectivity of the protocols. The SoC features 12Mbps Full Speed USB, and incorporates the ARM® CryptoCell-310 cryptographic accelerator offering best-in-class security for Cortex-M based SoCs. 

The nRF Connect SDK [Software Development Kit] is recommended for nRF52840 software development. The nRF Connect SDK integrates the Zephyr RTOS, supports applications using Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth mesh and Thread, and includes examples, Bluetooth LE profiles and driver support for all peripherals.