Texas Instruments has
combined a low-power microcontroller with an RF transceiver to create a
computing and communications platform for energy harvesting, networking, home
security, metering and a host of other applications.
the new single-chip platform takes special aim at low-power applications that
could benefit from wireless connectivity but haven't done so to date.
average consumer touches about 300 microcontrollers every day," says Kevin
Belnap, MSP430 product marketing manager for TI. "And of those 300 MCUs that
the consumer touches, a very small percentage now have wireless communication
capability. But we see a lot of cases for those applications to start adopting
platform is built atop TI's low-power MSP430
microcontroller and its sub-1-GHz CC1101 RF transceiver, which came to TI as
part of the company's Chipcon
acquistion. The combination of the two products in a single chip is
significant, TI says, because together the two draw low enough current to
enable battery-operated wireless networking systems to operate without
servicing for ten years or longer.
technology would be well-suited for so-called "energy harvesting" modules,
which employ mechanical vibrations or human body temperature as a power source
to send data from sensors to a collection site. TI engineers foresee such
capabilities as being key in many industrial applications because they
eliminate the need for frequent battery changes, as well as the need for installation
of discrete wiring between sensors and controllers. Possible applications for the technology
include hard-to-reach sensors on bridges and buildings, as well as security
systems, wireless medical equipment and measurement for micro-environmental
sensors in agricultural applications.
applications aren't possible unless they are wireless," Belnap says. "When
you're trying to monitor data over a large environment, it's very difficult to
string wires between nodes. Also, in many factories they don't want to install
a lot of cables to monitor their equipment. When they use wireless, everything
Advisory Group, an industrial research and consulting organization, has
predicted the worldwide market for wireless technology in manufacturing
will grow at a 32-percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years,
reaching $1 billion in 2010.
the CC430 to serve as a technology development platform for such industrial applications.
"We believe this platform is going to enable new markets and drive a lot of
innovations in the years to come," Belnap says.