Bluetooth Smart protocol frees wearables from the smartphone

July 03, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Nordic Semiconductor has a Bluetooth Smart protocol stack that enables sophisticated Bluetooth Smart wearable hub networks with wireless sensors that don't need smartphones. The S130 SoftDevice is a Bluetooth v4.1 compliant protocol stack and includes all Bluetooth Smart protocol layers up to and including GATT/GAP.

Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor has introduced the launch of its most advanced, feature-rich Bluetooth Smart (formerly known as Bluetooth low energy) protocol stack - the S130 SoftDevice - that allows the development of Nordic nRF51 Series SoC-based advanced wearable Bluetooth Smart hub network topologies such as smart watches with peripheral wireless sensors that don't always need a smartphone present to operate.

The S130 SoftDevice is a concurrent multi-link Central and Peripheral Bluetooth Smart protocol stack for Nordic's nRF51 Series of System-on-Chips (SoCs), is Bluetooth 4.1 compliant, and paves the way for the next generation of Bluetooth Smart wearable hub products.

The S130 SoftDevice supports multi-link central, peripheral, observer and broadcaster roles, GATT server and client, and event-driven, asynchronous and thread safe GATT/GAP and L2CAP APIs. The S130's ability to support concurrent multi-link central and peripheral roles makes it a suitable choice for Bluetooth Smarthubs that are not smartphones or tablets.

Other S130 SoftDevice features include an Over-The-Air Device Firmware Upgrade (OTA-DFU) capability that exploits the Nordic nRF51 Series SoCs' flash architecture for in-the-field product firmware updates.

A SoftDevice is Nordic's self-contained software stack for nRF51 Series SoCs that incorporates a unique separation of RF protocol and application code. Employing an architecture that cleanly separates the Bluetooth Smart, ANT or 2.4GHZ proprietary SoftDevice from the developer's application code removes the need for the engineer to struggle with integration of their code as part of a vendor-imposed application development framework. This separation ensures the stack and application software operate independently, but communicate when necessary via event-driven APIs.

"The S130 protocol stack is all about advanced Bluetooth Smart connectivity with our nRF51 Series SoCs," comments Thomas Embla Bonnerud, Director of Product Management at Nordic Semiconductor. "It supports all Bluetooth Smart roles in combination with the relaxed role restriction features in Bluetooth 4.1 enabling, for example, a Bluetooth Smart device to be connected to a smartphone and multiple sensors at