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Swatch chip brings Bluetooth Smart to any microcontroller

Steve Rogerson
June 10, 2015
Swiss-based Swatch subsidiary EM Microelectronic has released the latest version of the EM9301 low-power Bluetooth Smart controller that supports Bluetooth 4.1, and is suitable for implementing Bluetooth Smart with any microcontroller, ASIC or electronic system.
Optimised for different low-power modes, the chip consumes 9µA in Bluetooth LE idle state and less than 0.5µA in off mode, and was unveiled at Sensors Expo this week in Long Beach, California.
Suitable for low-power wireless sensing, remote control and monitoring applications, the device operates on 0.8V. It can be powered by a wide range of common single-cell batteries or energy harvesters such as solar cells, piezo-electric or electro-magnetic elements.
It supports both Bluetooth LE master and slave roles as defined in Bluetooth 4.1, and combines the physical layer, link layer and host controller interface layer in one chip. When paired with a low-power host controller, it is said to enable cost, performance and size optimisation for most Bluetooth Smart applications.
Bluetooth Smart is the wireless connectivity technology of choice for the IoT, wearable devices and M2M applications. Due to the wide range of requirements for these applications, there is a need for flexibility in microcontroller selection to allow for different processors, memory types and sizes, specialised peripheral blocks such as floating-point processors, data converters, timers, analogue and digital interfaces, and power management functions.
The device provides a flexible, modular and low-cost way to add Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity to the products, allowing designers to preserve their legacy microcontroller choice and leverage their software investment while adding wireless connectivity.
“EM9301’s companion-chip approach allows it to address simple Bluetooth applications such as our EMBC0x beacons, which are powered by an ultra-low-power embedded 8bit MCU to achieve a very low bill of materials,” said Michel Willemin, CEO of EM Microelectronic. “The EM9301 is also a perfect Bluetooth Smart solution for smart watches based on legacy or custom watch MCUs and in wearable devices, where they complement the sophisticated MCUs or dedicated ASIC processors that are utilised for healthcare signal processing.”
EM Microelectronic is demonstrating the EM9301, its Bluetooth Smart Beacons, Sentral sensor fusion, energy harvesting devices and other low-power products at Sensors Expo this week in Long Beach, California.