January 19, 2012
TI's SimpleLink connects everyday objects with Wi-Fi (Imagine That!)
The Internet of Things has long been a buzz phrase in the technology industry, with a bevy of experts predicting that someday soon, billions of mundane household appliances could be connected to the cloud, yet so far, that notion has remained right around the corner.
Texas Instruments, however, believes it has come up with the product needed to give the Internet of Things a kick start, with SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3000, a self-contained wireless processor to give developers a quick way to add internet connectivity to any embedded system using any microcontroller.
TI said SimpleLink, which uses an 802.11 network processor, will make it easy for people to add wireless connectivity to almost anything, from lawnmowers to dishwashers, allowing everyday products to connect up and share information.
Examples of what this kind of connectivity could entail include smoke alarms able to send text messages to home owners if they detect smoke while a person is away from home, or security systems that can email business or home owners when they detect intruders.
In the personal wellness sphere, applications could include blood pressure monitors that alert doctors when in-home patients’ levels spike or treadmills that connect to Web-based health services to track fitness progress.
Connectivity could even be used in personal items like umbrellas, which could connect to weather updates via the Wi-Fi network, and include an LED light that changes to “blue” if rain is expected.
SimpleLink CC3000 purportedly consumes just 0.5% of the resources of traditional Wi-Fi, with TI saying it uses just 6kb of flash and has just a 3Kb RAM software footprint.
The wireless processor also uses standard software APIs and has no need for an operating system, ensuring that it can be integrated into products within hours and just work. This, says TI, applies to both new and existing embedded applications.
“Wi-Fi technology has been around for more than a decade, but it hasn’t necessarily been accessible for most classes of product,” said Matt Kurtz, the channel marketing manager for TI’s wireless connectivity business unit.
Kurtz said customers repeatedly approached TI with simple microcontroller-based products, wanting to add Wi-Fi.
“We realized that it was unreasonable to expect them to start running Linux and change to a high performance applications processor, so knowing the potential of the Internet of Things market, we rolled up our sleeves and rearchitected our existing Wi-Fi solution to make it suitable for any product – regardless of the architecture,” he said, adding that SimpleLink offered customers a “blueprint to connect even the simplest devices to the Internet.”
Posted by Janine E. Mooney, Editor