Low-Power BLE Sensor Node for IoT Applications

Microchip Technology recently released a demonstration platform for the lowest-power Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensor node. The platform features an ultra-low-power BTLC1000-certified module, a SMART SAM L21 Cortex-M0+ MCU, Bosch sensor technology, and a complete software solution. The BLE demonstration platform includes source code, hardware design files, a user guide, and Android application source code.Microchip BLE Demo Platform

Features, benefits, and specs:

  • An integrated BTLC1000-MR110CA BLE module, delivering at least 30% more power savings compared to existing solutions.
  • An ultra-tiny 2.2 mm × 2.1 mm Wafer Level Chipscale Package (WLCP).
  • A SAM L21 that achieves a ULPBench score of 185, with power consumption down to 35 µA/MHz in active mode and 200 nA in sleep mode.
  • Bosch six-axis motion (BHI160) and environment (BME280) sensors that can be used for a wide variety of sensing applications.

The Ultra-Low-Power Connected Demonstrator Platform costs $39.

Source: Microchip Technology

New Low-Power Embedded Wi-Fi Solutions for the IoT

Microchip Technology recently launched four low-power, highly integrated solutions that enable Wi-Fi and networking capability to be embedded into a wide variety of devices, including Internet of Things (IoT) applications. These four modules provide complete solutions for 802.11b/g/n and are industry-certified in a variety of countries.Microcontroller  MRF24

The new RN1810 and RN1810E are stand-alone, surface-mount WiFly radio modules that include a TCP/IP stack, cryptographic accelerator, power management subsystem, 2.4-GHz 802.11b/g/n-compliant transceivers, and 2.4 RF power amplifier. You can pair them with any microcontroller and configure them using simple ASCII commands. WiFly provides a simple data pipe for sending data over a Wi-Fi network, requiring no prior Wi-Fi experience to get a product connected. Once configured, the device automatically accesses a Wi-Fi network and sends and receives serial data. The RN1810 features an integrated PCB antenna. The RN1810E supports an external antenna.

The new MRF24WN0MA and MRF24WN0MB are Wi-Fi modules that interface with Microchip’s PIC32 microcontrollers and support Microchip’s MPLAB Harmony integrated software framework with a TCP/IP stack that can be downloaded for free at www.microchip.com/harmony. The modules connect to the microcontroller via a four-wire SPI. They area an ideal solution for low-power, low-data-rate Wi-Fi sensor networks, home automation, building automation, and consumer applications. In addition, an MRF24WN0MA has an integrated PCB antenna, while the MRF24WN0MB supports an external antenna.

The RN1810/E and MRF24WN0MA/B are now available and start at $13.05 each in 1,000-unit quantities. Also available is the $34.95 MRF24WN0MA Wi-Fi PICtail/PICtail Plus Daughter Board, a demonstration board for evaluating Wi-Fi connectivity using PIC microcontrollers and the MRF24WN0MA module (part # AC164153). In addition, a $49.95 RN1810 Wi-Fi PICtail/PICtail Plus Daughter Board is available today with a fully integrated TCP/IP stack and USB interface for easy plug-and-play development with a PC (part # RN-1810-PICTAIL).

Source: Microchip Technology

Execute Open-Source Arduino Code in a PIC Microcontroller Using the MPLAB IDE

The Arduino single-board computer is a de facto standard tool for developing microcomputer applications within the hobbyist and educational communities. It provides an open-source hardware (OSH) environment based on a simple microcontroller board, as well as an open-source (OS) development environment for writing software for the board.

Here’s an approach that enables Arduino code to be configured for execution with the Microchip Technology PIC32MX250F128B small-outline 32-bit microcontroller. It uses the Microchip Technology MPLAB X IDE and MPLAB XC32 C Compiler and the Microchip Technology Microstick II programmer/debugger.

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Your own reasons for using this approach will depend on your personal needs and background. Perhaps as a long-term Arduino user, you want to explore a new processor performance option with your existing Arduino code base. Or, you want to take advantage of or gain experience with the Microchip advanced IDE development tools and debug with your existing Arduino code. All of these goals are easily achieved using the approach and the beta library covered in this article.

Several fundamental open-source Arduino code examples are described using the beta core library of Arduino functions I developed. The beta version is available, for evaluation purposes only, as a free download from the “Arduino Library Code for PIC32” link on my KibaCorp company website, kibacorp.com. From there, you can also download a short description of the Microstick II hardware configuration used for the library.

To illustrate the capabilities in their simplest form, here is a simple Blink LED example from my book Beginner’s Guide to Programming the PIC32. The example shows how this custom library makes it easy to convert Arduino code to a PIC32 binary file.

ARDUINO BLINK EXAMPLE 1
The Arduino code example is as follows: Wire an LED through a 1-K resistor to pin 13 (D7) of the Arduino. An output pin is configured to drive an LED using pinMode () function under setup (). Then under loop () this output is set high and then low using digitalWrite () and delay () functions to blink the LED. The community open-source Arduino code is:

Listing 1forwebPIC32 EXAMPLE 1 CODE MODIFICATIONS
The open-source example uses D13 or physical pin 13 on the Arduino. In relation to the PIC32MX, the D13 is physical pin 25. Pin 25 will be used in prototyping wiring.

Now, let’s review and understand the PIC32 project template and its associated “wrapping functions.”  The Arduino uses two principal functions: setup () to initialize the system and loop () to run a continuous execution loop. There is no Main function. Using the Microchip Technololgy XC32 C compiler, we are constrained to having a Main function. The Arduino setup () and loop () functions can be accommodated, but only as part of an overall template Main “wrapping” function. So within our PIC32 template, we accommodate this as follows:

Listing 2

This piece of code is a small but essential part of the template. Note that in this critical wrapping function, setup () is called once as in Arduino and loop () is configured to be called continuously (simulating the loop () function in Arduino) through the use of a while loop in Main.

The second critical wrapping function for our template is the use of C header files at the beginning of the code. The XC32 C compiler uses the C compiler directive #include reference files within the Main code. Arduino uses import, which is a similar construct that is used in higher-level languages such as Java and Python, which cannot be used by the MPLAB XC32 C.

The two include files necessary for our first example are as follows:

Listing 3

System.h references all the critical Microchip library functions supporting the PIC32MX250F128B. The Ardunio.h provides the Arduino specific library function set. Given these two key “wrapper” aspects, where does the Arduino code go? This is best illustrated with a side-by-side comparison between Arduino code and its Microchip equivalent. The Arduino code is essentially positioned between the wrapper codes as part of the Main function.

Blink side-by-side comparison

Blink side-by-side comparison

This approach enables Arduino code to execute on a Microchip PIC32 within an MPLAB X environment. Note that the Arduino code void setup () now appears as void setup (void), and void loop () appears as void loop (void). This is a minor inconvenience but again necessary for our C environment syntax for C prototype function definitions. Once the code is successfully compiled, the environment enables you to have access to the entire built-in tool suite of the MPLAB X and its debugger tool suite.

RUNNING EXAMPLE 1 CODE
Configure the Microstick II prototype as in the following schematic. Both the schematic and prototype are shown below:

Exercise 1 schematic

Exercise 1 schematic

Exercise 1 prototype

Exercise 1 prototype

BETA LIBRARY
Table 1 compares Arduino core functionality to what is contained in the Microchip PIC32 expanded beta library. In the beta version, I added additional C header files to accomplish the necessary library functionality. Table 2 compares variable types between Arduino and PIC32 variable types. Both Table 1 and Table 2 show the current beta version has a high degree of Arduino core library functionality. Current limitations are the use of only one serial port, interrupt with INT0 only, and no stream capability. In addition, with C the “!” operator is used for conditional test only and not as a complement function, as in Arduino. To use the complement function in C, the “~” operator is used. The library is easily adapted to other PIC32 devices or board types.

Table 1

Table 1: Arduino vs Microchip Technology PIC32 core library function comparison

Talble 2

Table 2: Arduino vs Microchip Technology PIC32 core library variable types

INTERRUPTS
If you use interrupts, you must identify to C the name of your interrupt service routine as used in your Arduino script. See below:

Interrupt support

Interrupt support

For more information on the beta release or to send comments and constructive criticism, or to report any detected problems, please contact me here.

LIBRARY TEST EXAMPLES
Four test case examples demonstrating additional core library functions are shown below as illustrations.

Serial communications

Serial communications

Serial find string test case

Serial find string test case

Serial parse INT

Serial parse INT

Interrupt

Interrupt

Editor’s Note: Portions of this post first appeared in Tom Kibalo’s book Beginner’s Guide to Programming the PIC32 (Electronics Products, 2013). They are reprinted with permission from Chuck Hellebuyck, Electronic Products. If you are interested in reading more articles by Kibalo, check out his two-part Circuit Cellar “robot boot camp” series posted in 2012 : “Autonomous Mobile Robot (Part 1): Overview & Hardware” and “Autonomous Mobile Robot (Part 2): Software & Operation.”

 

Tom Kibalo

Tom Kibalo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Kibalo is principal engineer at a large defense firm and president of KibaCorp, a company dedicated to DIY hobbyist, student, and engineering education. Tom, who is also an Engineering Department adjunct faculty member at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD, is keenly interested in microcontroller applications and embedded designs. To find out more about Tom, read his 2013 Circuit Cellar member profile.

New IC for Real-Time Power Monitoring of Multiple Loads

Microchip Technology recently expanded its power-monitoring IC portfolio with the addition of the MCP39F511N, which provides standard power calculations and event monitoring of two electrical loads. It includes three ADCs for voltage and two current load measurements, a 16-bit calculation engine, EEPROM, and a flexible two-wire interface.Microchip MCP39F511N

An integrated low-drift voltage reference in addition to the 94.5 dB of SINAD performance on each current measurement channel enables the MCP39F511N to monitor two current loads with only 0.5% error across a wide 4000:1 dynamic range.  The ability to measure active, reactive and apparent power, active and reactive energy accumulation, RMS current and RMS voltage, line frequency, and power factor combined with advanced, integrated features enables you to reduce bill of materials and time to market.

The MCP39F511N is supported by Microchip Technology’s $200 MCP39F511N Power Monitor Demonstration Board (ADM00706). The MCP39F511N is available for sampling and volume production in a 28-lead, 5 × 5 mm QFN package. It costs $1.82 in 5,000-unit quantities.

Source: Microchip Technology

Microchip and SiS Offer PCAP and 3D-Gesture Interface Modules

Microchip Technology and Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SiS) recently partnered to offer complete projected-capacitive touch (PCAP) and 3D-gesture interface modules. The modules are intended to simplify the design of multi-touch and 3D gesture displays with Microchip’s GestIC technology.Microchip PCAP 3D

Microchip’s GestIC is intended to be combined with multi-touch PCAP controllers. The modules from SiS integrate 2D PCAP and 3D gesture technologies. SiS modules with Microchip’s GestIC technology will enable engineers to deliver innovative 3D control displays in the consumer, home-automation, and Internet of Things markets.

Source: Microchip Technology

New PIC32 MPLAB Harmony Ecosystem Development Program

Microchip Technology’s new MPLAB Harmony Ecosystem Program is for the developers of embedded middleware and operating systems who are seeking to unlock the business potential of the 32-bit PIC32 microcontroller customer base. Ecosystem partners also gain early and easy access to the complete and current set of MPLAB Harmony tools. MPLAB Harmony is a 32-bit microcontroller firmware development framework, which integrates licensing, resale, and support of both Microchip and third-party middleware, drivers, libraries, and RTOSes. The new Ecosystem Program builds on that framework by offering an open and structured method to become certified as “Harmony Compatible,” using the embedded-control industry’s only set of test harnesses, checklists, and reference validation points. By accessing this broader, code-compatible ecosystem when creating complimentary value-added software, developers can reduce risks and overall costs, accelerate time to market, and grow their businesses by gaining opportunities to market to thousands of PIC32 MPLAB Harmony users.MPLAB Harmony

As today’s applications get increasingly sophisticated, embedded developers need to rapidly bring complex solutions to market. Microchip’s MPLAB Harmony framework for its PIC32 microcontrollers can reduce the development time of a typical project by a minimum of 20–35%, by providing a single integrated, abstracted, and flexible source of tested, debugged, and interoperable code. Additionally, MPLAB Harmony provides a modular architecture that enables the efficient integration of multiple drivers, middleware and libraries, while offering an RTOS-independent environment. Not only does this pre-verification and integration speed development, it also increases reuse. On the hardware side, the MPLAB Harmony framework makes it even easier to port code, thereby simplifying migration among all of Microchip’s 32-bit PIC32 microcontrollers, enabling a highly profitable, multitiered end equipment offering with minimal code redevelopment. Middleware and Operating System developers who take advantage of Microchip’s Ecosystem Development Program will be better able to offer customers solutions that leverage MPLAB Harmony’s efficiency and reliability advantages.

The MPLAB Harmony Integrated Software Framework is also supported by Microchip’s free MPLAB Harmony Configurator and MPLAB XC32 Compiler v1.40, all of which operate within Microchip’s MPLAB X IDE, and all of which are available for free download. Additionally, MPLAB Harmony and the PIC32 are supported with a comprehensive set of low-cost development boards available from microchipDIRECT or by contacting one of Microchip’s authorized distribution partners.

Source: Microchip Technology

New Industrial-Grade Ethernet Physical-Layer transceiver

Microchip Technology recently announced the KSZ8061 single-chip 10BASE-T/100BASE-TX automotive- and industrial-grade Ethernet physical-layer transciever. Intended for data communication over low-cost Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables,  it is the first of a new family based on the programmable Quiet-WIRE enhanced EMC technology, providing reduced line emissions and superior receiver immunity performance. LinkMD+ advanced cable diagnostics improves system reliability. Microchip KSZ8061

For energy-efficient applications, Microchip’s integrated EtherGREEN technology includes a unique Ultra Deep Sleep mode with signal-detect wakeup, which lowers standby power consumption to the sub-microampere range. With fast boot and linkup in less than 20 ms, the KSZ8061 is well suited for applications where startup time is critical. The KSZ8061 family is available with an extended temperature range of °40 to 105°Celsius for harsh-environment applications (e.g.,  industrial sensor networks and robotics). This Ethernet PHY transceiver family provides support for both the MII and RMII processor interfaces, for easy integration with numerous processors, MCUs and SoCs.

Microchip also has a new evaluation board, to enable functional and performance testing of the KSZ8061.  The $115 KSZ8061MNX evaluation board is now available for pre-ordering.

The KSZ8061 costs $1.16 each in 10,000-unit quantities for industrial grade. Volume-production availability is expected in early 2016.

Source: Microchip Technology

Low Power PIC MCUs Extend Battery Life, Eliminate External Memory via Flash

Microchip Technology recently expanded its Low Power PIC microcontroller portfolio. The new PIC24F GB6 family includes up to 1 MB of Flash memory with Error Correction Code (ECC) and 32 KB of RAM. The new 16-bit MCU in Microchip’s first to offer such a large memory size. Featuring dual-partition flash with Live Update capability, the devices can hold two independent software applications, permitting the simultaneous programming of one partition while executing application code from the other. This useful combination of features makes the PIC24F GB6 family ideal for a wide variety of applications (e.g., industrial, computer, medical/fitness, and portable applications).Microchip plugin mod

Microcontrollers in the PIC24F GB6 family have active current consumption as low as 190 µA/MHz and 3.2 µA in Sleep mode. With the ability to perform over-the-air firmware updates, designers can provide a cost-effective, reliable and secure method for updating their applications. The robust peripheral set for these devices includes a 200 ksps, 24 channel, 12-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC).

The PIC24F GB6 family is supported by Microchip’s standard suite of development tools. The new PIC24FJ1024GB610 Plug-In Module (part # MA240023, $25) is available today for the Explorer 16 Development Board (part # DM240001, $129).

All eight members of the PIC24F GB6 microcontroller family are released for volume production, and are available within normal lead times. Pricing starts at $1.74 each, in high volumes. Product variants are available in 64-, 100-, and 121-pin packages, with flash memory ranging from 128 KB to 1 MB.

Source: Microchip Technology

New Dual-Channel USB Port Power Controller

Microchip Technology recently expanded its programmable USB-port power controller portfolio with the dual-channel UCS2112. This UCS2112 port power controller supports two ports, with eight programmable continuous current limits for each port, ranging from 0.53 to 3 A for faster charging times at higher currents. You can use it as is or with USB hubs to create a complete charging or USB communication system.Microchip UCS2112

 

The UCS2112 port power controller is supported by Microchip’s new $140 UCS2112 Evaluation Board. The UCS2112 is available for sampling and volume production in a 20-pin QFN package. Pricing starts at $1.80 each, in 5,000-unit quantities. Microchip Eval Board USC21212

Source: Microchip Technology

Next-Gen Bluetooth Low Energy Solutions

Microchip Technology recently launched next-generation Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) solutions intended for Internet of Things (IoT) and Bluetooth Beacon applications: the IS1870 Bluetooth LE RF module, the IS1871 Bluetooth LE RF module, and the BM70 module.Microchip BM70

The Bluetooth LE devices include an integrated, certified Bluetooth 4.2 firmware stack. Data is transmitted over the Bluetooth link using Transparent UART mode, which you can integrate with any processor or PIC microcontroller with a UART interface. The module also supports standalone “hostless” operation for beacon applications.

The optimized power profile of these new devices minimizes current consumption for extended battery life, in compact form factors as small as 4 × 4 mm for the RF ICs and 15 × 12 mm for the module. The module options include RF regulatory certifications, or noncertified (unshielded/antenna-less) for smaller and more remote antenna designs that will undergo end-product emission certifications.

The BM70 Bluetooth Low Energy PICtail/PICtail Plus daughter board enables code development via USB interface to a PC. Or you can connect to Microchip’s existing microcontroller development boards, such as the Explorer 16, PIC18 Explorer and PIC32 I/O Expansion Board. The BM-70-PICTAIL costs $89.99.

The IS1870 Bluetooth LE RF IC (6 × 6 mm, 48-pin QFN package) costs $1.79 in 1,000-unit quantities. The IS1871 (4 × 4 mm, 32-pin QFN package) costs $1.76 in 1,000-unit quantities. The 30-pin BM70 Bluetooth LE modules are available with or without built-in PCB antennas, starting at $4.99 each in 1,000-unit quantities.

Source: Microchip Technology

Expanded 32-bit MCU Family with Integrated Floating Point Unit Series

Microchip Technology has launched a new series of its high-performance PIC32MZ family of 32-bit microcontrollers that features an integrated hardware floating point unit (FPU) for high performance and lower latency in intensive single and double-precision math applications. This new 48-member PIC32MZ EF series also offers a 12-bit, 18 MSPS analog-to-digital converter (ADC) for a wide array of high-speed, wide-bandwidth applications. Additionally, the PIC32MZ EF supports an extensive DSP instruction set. This combination of DSP instructions, a double-precision FPU and a high-speed ADC improves code density, decreases latency and accelerates performance in process-intensive applications.Microchip32MZ

The PIC32MZ EF series is powered by Imagination’s MIPS M-Class core at 200MHz/330 DMIPS and 3.28 CoreMarks/MHz, along with dual-panel, live-update flash memory (up to 2 MB), large RAM (512 KB), and the widest selection of connectivity peripherals in the entire PIC32 portfolio, including a 10/100 Ethernet MAC, Hi-Speed USB MAC/PHY, and dual CAN ports.

The PIC32MZ EF, in the LCCG configuration, can support up to a WQVGA display without the added cost of external graphics controllers. An optional, full-featured hardware crypto engine is also available with a random number generator for high-throughput data encryption/decryption and authentication (e.g., AES, 3DES, SHA, MD5, and HMAC).
Accelerating product cycles and rapidly evolving customer demands are increasing time-to-market pressures on designers. Microchip’s MPLAB Harmony Integrated Software Framework provides a modular, easy-to-use GUI-based development ecosystem that helps ease integration and reduces testing and speed adaptation.

The new PIC32MZ EF series is also supported by Microchip’s free MPLAB X Integrated Development Environment (IDE), within which Harmony operates, as well as the MPLAB XC32 Compilers. The MPLAB ICD 3 In-Circuit Debugger (part # DV164035, $199.95) and MPLAB REAL ICE In-Circuit Emulator System (part # DV244005, $499.98) are also available.

Four new PIC32MZ EF development tools are also available today. The complete, turn-key PIC32MZ Embedded Connectivity with FPU EF Starter Kit ($119); the PIC32MZ Embedded connectivity with Floating Point Unit and Crypto Starter Kit ($119); the PIC32MZ2048EF PIM Explorer 16 Plug In Module ($25); and the PIC32MZ EF Audio 144-pin PIM for Bluetooth Audio Development Kit ($25).

The 48 members of the PIC32MZ EF series are available for sampling and volume production. The crypto engine is integrated into 16 of the PIC32MZ EF MCUs, and there are 12 MCUs with 512 KB of flash memory, 24 MCUs with 1 MB of flash memory, and 12 MCUs with 2 MB of flash memory. Pricing starts at $5.48 each in 10,000-unit quantities.

Source: Microchip Technology

New Highly Configurable Low-Power Embedded Controllers

Microchip Technology recently announced the MEC14XX family of highly configurable low-power embedded controllers, which enables multiple I/O signals to be configured to support either 3.3 or 1.8 V and reduces materials cost by eliminating the need for external voltage translators.Microchip MEX14xx

Intended for for general x86 computing, the MEC14XX family also allow for a seamless migration of intellectual property (IP) reuse across multiple x86 computing platform architectures, including Intel Atom, Intel iCore and AMD-based systems. The devices are available with a choice of 128, 160, or 192 KB of closely coupled SRAM for code and data that loads from SPI-flash.

Each member of the MEC14XX family is based on Microchip’s 32-bit PIC MCU architecture and is supported by Microchip’s development tools. Examples include the MPLAB XC Compilers, the MPLAB REAL ICE In-Circuit Emulator (part # DV244005, $499), the MPLAB ICD 3 In-Circuit Debugger (part # DV164035, $199), and the PICkit 3 Starter Kit (part # DV164130, $64).

The MEC1404 (128-KB SRAM) and MEC1408 (192-KB SRAM) embedded controllers supporting the Intel LPC interface cost $1.68 each in 10,000-unit quantities. The MEC1418 (192-KB SRAM) embedded controller costs $2.05 in 10,000-unit quantities. All MEC14XX devices are available in a 128-VTQFP package.

Source: Microchip Technology

New 32-Bit MCU Series for Embedded Control and Touch

Microchip Technology recently announced a new series within its PIC32MX1/2 32-bit microcontroller family that features a 256-KB flash configureation and 16-KB of RAM. The microcontrollers provide flexibility to low-cost applications that need complex algorithms and application code. More specifically, they are intended to help designers looking to develop products with capacitive touch screens or touch buttons, as well as USB device/host/OTG connectivity.Microchip PIC32mx1

The PIC32MX1/2 MCU series provides  up to 50 MHz/83 DMIPS performance for executing advanced control applications and mTouch capacitive touch sensing. In addition, it has an enhanced 8-bit Parallel Master Port (PMP) for graphics or external memory, a 10-bit, 1-Msps, 13-channel ADC, support for SPI and I2S serial communications interfaces, and USB device/host/On-the-Go (OTG) functionality.

Microchip’s MPLAB Harmony software development framework further simplifies designs by integrating the license, resale, and support of Microchip and third-party middleware, drivers, libraries and Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS). Specifically, Microchip’s readily available software packages—including USB stacks and Graphics and Touch libraries—can greatly reduce the development time of applications such as consumer, industrial and general-purpose embedded control.

These latest PIC32MX1/2 MCUs are available now in 28-pin QFN, SPDIP ,and SSOP packages and 44-pin QFN, TQFP and VTLA packages. Pricing starts at $1.91 each, in 10,000-unit quantities.

Source: Microchip Technology

Two New PIC Families with Core-Independent Peripherals

Looking for an 8-bit microcontroller for an IoT application? Microchip Technology announced from ESC 2015 Silicon Valley two new 8-bit families that expand its growing portfolio of PIC microcontrollers with Core-Independent Peripherals (CIPs).

The PIC16F1579 and PIC16F18877 8-bit MCU families provide you with with a variety of intelligent options in low pin count packages and a wide operating voltage range.Microchip PIC16F157X

Both families offer the Peripheral Pin Select feature for flexible pin mapping and PCB routing to minimize EMI and crosstalk. Intended applications include consumer electronics, the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable technology and safety-critical systems.

The Curiosity Development Board costs $20. Pricing for the PICs starts at $0.51 each in 10,000-unit quantities.

Source: Microchip Technology