Lowest-power Bluetooth Smart sensor beacon integrates accelerometers

April 14, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Inexpensive Bluetooth beacons with integrated tri-axial accelerometer enable "motion" and "context aware" beacon applications. EM Microelectronic, the semiconductor company of the Swatch Group, has introduced its EMBC02, a combination of sensors with EM’s low-cost, low-power and fully certified beacon technology.

EMBC02 SeriesEMBC02 beacons integrate a 3-axis accelerometer in the same form factor as EMBC01, enabling a wide range of motion-based beacon applications. By attaching EMBC02 to objects or people, both, proximity and motion, can be monitored by a smartphone or tablet application. EMBC02 can be programmed to transmit proximity and identification data, like standard beacons, but it can also provide motion data (movements, vibrations, acceleration) as well as specific motion-based alarms based on accelerometer data, originating from shock, free-fall or taps. The accelerometer supports maximising battery life by “beaconing” data only when required, e.g. while in motion, or when an alarm condition occurs.

EM Microelectronic is focused on developing extremely power efficient solutions. The EMBC01 Bluetooth Smart proximity beacon can operate for more than 12 months on a single CR2032 coin cell. EMBC02 offers even longer battery life with optimised usage scenarios where the beacon sleeps (or transmits infrequently) until the accelerometer detects movement. “Beaconing only when EMBC02 is in motion allows for drastic energy savings” says Michel Willemin, CEO of EM Microelectronic Marin. He adds “This approach paves the way toward a truly useable and meaningful sensor-based IoT platform where real world data is connected to the cloud and where battery lifetime is expressed in years, rather than months”.

The EMBC02 is completely programmable and capable of supporting multiple proximity standards (e.g. iBeacon, AltBeacon or any other proprietary protocol) in a single beacon. It is FCC/CE/IC certified, includes a multi-function button for input and two LEDs for user feedback. The beacon module comes in a weatherproof (IP-64) housing.

With such “motion” and “context aware” features, EMBC02 is a suitable beacon for a wide category of IoT applications. It will enable a wide range of mobile applications: elderly person fall detection and alarms, child monitoring with detection of activity (or absence of activity) within defined proximity range, or similarly pet and animal activity monitoring, theft prevention where objects (valuable items