Design win; Nordic’s Bluetooth chips make for a minimalist beacon design

September 15, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
"In contrast to many beacons on the market today that carry in our view a lot of unnecessary technological overhead, we partnered with Nordic to strip out as much complexity as possible out of our Pucks to maximize battery life and minimize cost and complexity," explains CEO of Canadian startup, Reteneo, President, Jean-Christophe Titus.

Reteneo's stripped-down iOS and Android-compatible beacon platform supports $15 per month subscription model and is based on – in fact, contains not much more than – a Nordic nRF51822 SoC.

The Reteneo Pucks themselves are the size of regular [ice] hockey pucks and feature nothing more than a Nordic nRF51822 SoC, antenna, and two watch batteries. The ultra low power operating characteristics of the nRF51822 will allow the puck to run for an average of two years in continuous operation. Reteneo says another major benefit of the Nordic nRF51822 SoC is its ability to do firmware updates over-the-air, a platform feature that Reteneo plans to include in the future.

The 'Puck' platform is designed to allow multiple retailers and merchants to offer beacon-based services to consumers via a single 'Reteneo Life' app instead of having to download a separate app for each beacon. Reteneo Pucks continuously advertise their presence to any passing iOS or Android Bluetooth Smart Ready smartphone within a range of up to 100m. All Pucks are remotely maintained by Reteneo as part of the subscription service and replaced as and when required (e.g. when their batteries are about to expire).

"We can foresee a day where every retailer or merchant has beacons, but we cannot foresee a day where consumers are willing to have hundreds of different beacon-compatible apps on their smartphones," comments Cesar Rego, CEO of Reteneo. "It's never going to happen given that people are already complaining that they have too many apps on their smartphones as it is. That's why we've taken a different approach and designed our beacon platform to work with a single app that is relevant to all retailers and merchants within a particular locality."

In operation the Reteneo Pucks continuously advertise their presence to any passing iOS or Android Bluetooth Smart Ready smartphone within a range of up to 100m. Once the Reteneo Life app is running on the device,