A new wearable, wireless development system could serve as a
reference platform for the design of sports watches, heart monitors, pedometers,
fitness equipment and a wide variety of wireless applications.
Known as the EZ430-Chronos,
the development tool is being sold by Texas
Instruments for $49, as a way of getting its CC430
radio-frequency-based microcontroller into a growing number of wireless
"The development system literally comes in a sports watch," says
Adrian Valenzuela, a product marketing engineer for TI's MSP430 microcontroller
family. "You can take the back off the watch, remove the module, and program it
for whatever you need to do."
The EZ430-Chronos is believed to be the first customizable
development system to be offered within an intelligent sports watch. It
includes a USB-based RF "access point" that plugs into a personal computer (PC)
and communicates wirelessly with the Chronos watch, enabling an engineer to do
the development through a PC.
The watch also incorporates sensors for use in a variety of
applications. A three-axis accelerometer allows users to do motion-based
control or sensing. Sensors for temperature, voltage and battery charge are
also included in the watch, along with development software.
TI engineers say the tool could be used for the design of
sports watches or high-end fitness watches, as well as fitness equipment, such
as pedometers and heart monitors. The company's literature also says that it
could be used to create displays for personal area networks or wireless sensor
nodes for data collection.
"We are not exclusively targeting it at the watch market,"
Valenzuela says. "That's just a tiny subset of the market we will be
TI says that BM
Innovations, a maker of electronic products for the sports and fitness
market, has created a heart-rate monitoring system that is compatible with the
EZ430-Chronos. Valenzuela adds that one TI engineer suggested employing the
development system to create a product that would use the three-axis
accelerometer, pressure sensor and data collection capability to map a skier's
course during downhill skiing.
"Because of its low cost, it's going to improve accessibility
for a broad range of users who might not have considered doing RF designs in
the past," Valenzuela says.
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