Nordic Semiconductor today announces that F5 Sports, a Winston-Salem, NC-based sports technology startup, has selected Nordic’s nRF52840 Bluetooth® 5/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) to meet the complex processing and wireless connectivity requirements of its pitchLogic system designed to help baseball pitchers and coaches at any level including juniors, amateurs, and professionals.
pitchLogic is a Bluetooth LE-enabled baseball that uses proprietary algorithms employing 15 channels of built-in sensor data to provide a comprehensive set of body movement and pitch performance metrics—including spin rates, acceleration rates, launch angles, and breaking force—that help a baseball pitcher practice more efficiently, reduce stress on the body caused by overpractice, measure immediate progress, and optimize their overall pitching performance during a session.
The pitchLogic baseball uses the Bluetooth LE connectivity enabled by the Nordic SoC to wirelessly send the sensor data with low latency to the user’s Bluetooth 4.0 (or later) smartphone, tablet, or laptop where the user can view the metrics after each individual pitch or review previous pitches via the iOS- and Android-compatible partner app.
The Nordic SoC’s 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4F processor is designed to support the Floating Point (FP) and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) computations required to run the pitchLogic system’s complex applications.
Nordic’s nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC is Nordic’s most advanced ultra low power wireless solution. The SoC supports complex Bluetooth LE and other low-power wireless applications that were previously not possible with a single-chip solution. The nRF52840 is Bluetooth 5-, Thread 1.1-, and Zigbee PRO (R21) and Green Power proxy specification-certified and its Dynamic Multiprotocol feature uniquely supports concurrent wireless connectivity of the protocols. A new radio architecture with on-chip PA provides -95-dBm RX sensitivity (at 1Mbps Bluetooth LE), a maximum output power of 8dBm, and a total link budget of 103dBm. The chip supports all the features of Bluetooth 5 (including 4x the range or 2x the raw data bandwidth (2Mbps)) compared with Bluetooth 4.2. Designed to address the inherent security challenges that are faced in IoT, the nRF52840 SoC incorporates the Arm CryptoCell-310 cryptographic accelerator, offering best-in-class security.
The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S140 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certified software protocol stack for building long range and high data Bluetooth LE applications. The S140 SoftDevice offers concurrent Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, and supports high throughput and long range modes as well as advertising extensions. Nordic’s software architecture includes a clear separation between the RF protocol software and F5 Sports’ application code, which simplified development and ensured the SoftDevice wasn’t corrupted when F5 Sports engineers were developing, compiling, testing, and verifying their application code.
The pitchLogic baseball uses a rechargeable 40mAH battery that currently achieves three hours of active use and 10 days of standby time before wireless recharge using Qi, a wireless charging standard that eliminates the need for a micro USB interface in the baseball. This battery life can be achieved in part due to the low power characteristics of the Nordic SoC. The nRF52840 SoC 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.
“The Nordic SoC provides all of the computational and wireless communication capabilities of our pitchLogic system,” says David Rankin, CEO of F5 Sports. “For us, the nRF52840 SoC has enabled a combination of key advantages including fast FP operations, built-in Bluetooth LE connectivity, and of course low power requirements, that were not previously available.
“We were also very pleased with the responsiveness of Nordic’s technical team; the RF review process in particular was immensely helpful.”