Bluetooth Smart Arduino single-board updates over-the-air from smartphones and tablets

June 06, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
By eliminating the need for an extra shield board, Hong Kong-based RedBear says it has developed compact product that is up to half the cost of previous two-board solutions and can be programmed and updated over-the-air from Bluetooth Smart Ready portable devices such as smartphones and tablets, as it hosts the Nordic Semiconductor nRF8001

Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor has secured a design-in for its nRF8001 Connectivity IC in ReadBear's single board Bluetooth Smart Arduino solution called 'Blend' that supports over-the-air updates on-the-fly from Bluetooth Smart Ready smartphones and tablets (via a Bootloader that will be available at the end of June).

By eliminating the need for an extra, separate shield board, RedBear says the Blend is both smaller and up to half the cost of previous two-board Arduino Bluetooth Smart solutions, while also being simpler and easier to use because it requires no additional wiring or soldering, or indeed potential troubleshooting.

Blend boards are ArduinoAtHeart-certified and come in two form factors: the miniaturised 'Blend Micro' (43.4 x 18.5 x 4.5 mm) and larger more functional 'Blend' (77.2 x 58.4 x 20 mm). Both are designed to allow electronics makers (such as amateur hobbyists hobbyists and students) and professional developers (such as R&D engineers and product designers) to develop Bluetooth Smart products using the simplicity and flexibility of the Arduino open source platform.

The Blend and Blend Micro also natively support (with no extra wiring) all Nordic Semiconductor nRF8001 compatible reference designs (downloadable from the Nordic website and including the Smart Remote, and Smartphone Demo App) development tools and software development kits (including the nRFgo Starter Kit, nRF8001 Development Kit, nRF8001 Software Development Kit (SDK), and nRFgo Studio). The nRF8001 SDK contains many different application examples including Human Interface Device (HID); UART over Bluetooth low energy; Heart Rate Monitor (HRM); Temperature; and Proximity.

"The Arduino platform doesn't have any wireless capabilities built-in," says Chi-Hung Ma, CEO of RedBear. "So makers and developers have previously had to purchase an additional BLE [Bluetooth low energy] shield board if they want to add Bluetooth Smart functionality to their products."

"The popularity and ever-increasing sophistication of tablets and smartphones is driving their adoption in place of traditional desktop PCs and laptops among many consumers," comments