Smartphones as vector to low-cost ambient temperature monitoring

April 09, 2013 // By Paul Buckley
Hong Kong-based National Electronics & Watch Co. Ltd has announced a Bluetooth low energy temperature sensor platform that could reduce the cost of installing smart ambient temperature monitoring networks into homes and commercial buildings by using the simplicity of a smartphone.

Called the 'BlutolTemp Thermometer', the product will allow anyone that owns a smartphone with the latest version 4.0 of Bluetooth (that includes Bluetooth low energy/Bluetooth Smart as a hallmark feature) to set-up and use a wireless smart temperature monitoring network of up to 10 continuously monitored sensors within minutes that can continuously collect, store, and display temperature data on a smartphone app.

Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF8001 offers leading ULP (ultra-low-power) performance and size to enable each NEWCO Bluetooth low energy temperature sensor to run for over one year from a regular CR2032 coin cell under typical usage conditions (10sec update rate) while featuring a slim (0.8cm-thick) and compact (3.5 x 2.4 cm) plastic sensor housing that is water resistant to 10 m (1 atm) and weighs less than 9g.

"One of the most challenging parts of developing this solution was achieving the 10 m water resistance in such a small form factor," comments Alfred Ma, Chief Engineer at NEWCO who helped develop the BlutolTemp Thermometer. "We had to draw on our company's heritage in watch making since 1975 and focus on getting all the parts to fit together with high precision in order to maintain a hermetic seal - including a battery compartment that can be easily opened by the end user."

"Until now consumers and commercial organizations wishing to employ a smart temperature monitoring solution to, for example, minimize energy and heating consumption, would have had to look at some kind of costly ZigBee based platform that would have required professional installation," adds Jackson Chan, Assistant Sales General Manager at NEWCO. "In contrast, our solution is 'Plug&Play', likely to retail for as little as $20-30 per sensor, and can be installed quickly and easily by the end users themselves without specialist training or equipment beyond having a Bluetooth v4.0 compatible smartphone."

NEWCO is actively looking for partners interested in developing branded product solutions based on its BlutolTemp Thermometer platform.