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Mesh Sensor Network Uses Nordic’s Multiprotocol SoC

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that Zenatix Solutions
selected Nordic’s nRF52840 Bluetooth 5/BLE Thread, Zigbee, and 2.4GHz
proprietary advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) for its “WattMan”
ecosystem. WattMan is a mesh-enabled sensor network based on OpenThread, an
open source wireless mesh RF software protocol with native support for IPv6.

WattMan is deployed to optimize operational energy
efficiency for smart lighting and other commercial applications via automated,
intelligent monitoring and control. The “plug and play” solution is designed to
provide centralized visibility, energy savings, improved asset maintenance,
customer comfort and increased compliance.

The WattMan platform incorporates a network of
battery-powered sensors each using a Nordic nRF52840 SoC-based module to report
back data via nRF52840-powered mains-powered routers to a central gateway
(based on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module) that uses Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or
cellular connectivity to relay data to the Cloud. Each router can support up
more than 100 different sensors. These include monitoring temperature, humidity
and luminosity and the system can be easily extended to support other on-board
sensors such as pressure, current, voltage and magnetic flux. Up to 32 routers
can then form a multi-hop wireless network sending data to the gateway.
Sensors, routers, and gateway communicate locally in the Personal Area Network
(PAN) using the OpenThread protocol.

The sensors can also enable smart control for enterprise
OEMs in, for example, a smart lighting application. The system uses luminosity
and occupancy data from sensors to automatically alter lights according to
whatever conditions are required. For example, if the occupancy of an office is
low, lights can be turned off in unused areas. The solution also enables the
user to control the lighting for personalized comfort using the web dashboard
or mobile app. Smart lighting actuation is enabled by Zenatix-designed nRF52840
SoC-based lighting control cards, that can be used to turn lights on/off,
perform dimming functions, or control smart LED lighting operation.

 The nRF52840 SoC
is a Thread 1.1 and Bluetooth 5/Bluetooth LE-certified wireless solution and is
the only multiprotocol SoC on the market that offers concurrent Thread and
Bluetooth 5 support. The SoC’s boasts a ‘Dynamic Multiprotocol’ feature which
simultaneously supports the OpenThread RF protocol stack and Nordic’s S140
SoftDevice (a Bluetooth LE protocol stack). The device also supports Zigbee.
Multiprotocol mesh networking support was a key reason for Zenatix’s selection
of the nRF52840 because it facilitates switching to other popular wireless
connectivity protocols without the need to update the application’s hardware.

 Nordic’s nRF52840
multiprotocol SoC features a 64MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex® M4 processor with
floating point unit (FPU), a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth
5, ANT™, Thread, Zigbee, IEEE 802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol
software), 1MB Flash memory and 256kB RAM. This hardware capability ensures the
WattMan mesh network can support the most complex wireless applications while
the SoC’s Arm CryptoCell-310 cryptographic accelerator enables secure
Over-the-Air Device Firmware Updates (OTA-DFU). The nRF52840’s radio
architecture with on-chip PA provides -95dBm RX sensitivity (at 1Mbps Bluetooth
LE), a maximum output power of 8dBm, and a total link budget of 103dBm.

 The SoC is
supplied with Nordic’s S140 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certified software
protocol stack for building long range and high data Bluetooth LE applications.
The S140 SoftDevice offers concurrent Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and
Observer Bluetooth LE roles, and supports high throughput and long-range modes
as well as advertising extensions. OpenThread and Zigbee stacks are available
through Nordic’s nRF5 SDK for Thread and Zigbee.

 The WattMan
sensors use two AAA batteries providing battery life of 15-18 months, thanks in
part to the ultra-low power characteristics of the Nordic nRF52840 SoC. The
nRF52840 has been engineered to minimize power consumption with a
fully-automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to
80% compared with the nRF51 Series.

Nordic Semiconductor |

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Mesh Sensor Network Uses Nordic’s Multiprotocol SoC

by Circuit Cellar Staff time to read: 3 min