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Sport and Health Monitoring Applications Coming to Your PDA Soon

Thu, 04/03/2008 - 10:21am
ANT recently announced that Taiwan-based Spectec Computer Company Ltd. has launched the SDA-320 miniSDIO ANT RF card with ANT+Sport Software Development Kit. In demonstration form, the SDA-320 allows a miniSDIO card slot-equipped Motorola Q phone to wirelessly collect and analyze data from sports performance and health monitoring sensors such as heart rate straps and speed/distance activity monitors. The SDA-320 miniSDIO ANT RF card uses Nordic Semiconductor's ANT specific nRF24AP1™ 2.4 GHz ultra-low power transceiver and ANT's Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) protocol.

Although these sports and health monitoring sensors typically communicate with specialized wrist top computers or bike computers, the ability to interface directly to a smartphone has long been sought because of their ubiquity and capacity to transmit data to medical practitioners or coaches via the cellular network. Spectec's SDA-320 is the first device to make this prospect a reality.

"Health or sports monitoring centered on mobile devices is cited as the future of personal WSNs, but there is no need to wait two or three more years for other technologies to mature," explains Brian Macdonald, Director ANT. "Spectec has demonstrated that developers can now confidently use proven ANT and ANT+Sport to connect ultra-low power wireless sensors seamlessly with a smartphone or PDA to create lucrative consumer applications."

Housed in a standard miniSDIO Card measuring 21 × 20 × 1.4 mm, the SDA-320 is designed to plug into a smart phone or PDA to allow the device to interface with ANT sensors to collect, present and analyze data. Typical sensors include heart rate monitors, speed and distance footpods, bike power meters or bike cadence meters.

ANT is a proven WSN protocol with an installed base of over two million nodes. ANT is designed for ultra-low power operation and simplicity enabling sensors to operate from coin cell batteries. ANT combines a highly efficient protocol with the Nordic Semiconductor nRF24AP1 radio offering a raw data bandwidth of 1 Mbit/s. Applications typically feature very low duty cycles; the radio spends long periods in ultra-low power sleep mode (consuming just microamps), wakes up quickly, transmits rapidly to minimize broadcast time and then return to sleep mode. Average current is in the microamp range extending battery life up to several years (depending on use case). ANT-based wireless links co-exist harmoniously with each other — and other 2.4 GHz wireless technologies — while operating with total reliability.

The SDA-320 is supplied with an ANT+Sport Software Development Kit that allows third parties to develop smartphone or PDA-based applications using the data gathered from the ANT+Sport wireless sensors. The demonstration platform runs on a Motorola Q phone using Windows® CE 6.0 OS, but Spectec is planning to provide support for other smartphones, PDAs and operating systems. Spectec is also planning to offer other forms of ANT SDIO cards.

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