Nordic Semiconductor has announced that PowerFilm, a company specializing in custom solar solutions, employs Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) SoC in its “Indoor Solar Development Kit with Nordic BLE” for IoT developers, engineers and hobbyists looking to power electronics by harvesting indoor light energy. Once harvested, the energy is stored in a rechargeable battery or capacitor bank.
The development kit simplifies the design process for OEMs incorporating indoor solar energy in Bluetooth LE devices, with applications including smart home, building automation, inventory and retail management, asset tracking, and industrial monitoring. In addition to the Nordic SoC, the plug and play kit incorporates an onboard energy harvester/power management IC and indoor solar panels. In operation, the nRF52832 SoC automatically connects to the power when energy is available—enabling Bluetooth LE operation of the solar-powered device—before disconnecting when the stored energy is depleted.
The high performance indoor solar panels are able to sustain Bluetooth LE operation even in dimly lit indoor environments such as those typically seen in warehouses and industrial plants, thanks in part to the ultra-low power characteristics of the Nordic SoC. The nRF52832 has been engineered to minimize power consumption with features such as the 2.4 GHz radio’s 5.5 mA peak RX/TX currents and a fully-automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to 80% compared with Nordic’s nRF51 Series SoCs.
The development kit’s onboard capacitor charger provides two key benefits: First, it enables applications that don’t need the extra storage capacity to operate without a battery; and second, it charges the capacitors directly from the solar panel, without any conversions, which boosts performance over a standard energy harvesting power management integrated circuit.
Nordic’s nRF52832 multiprotocol SoC combines a 64 MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex M4F processor with a 2.4 GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT, and proprietary 2.4 GHz RF protocol software) featuring -96-dB RX sensitivity, with 512 KB Flash memory and 64 KB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certifed RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S132 SoftDevice features Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, supports up to twenty connections, and enables concurrent role operation.
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