When people think of harvesting data, they think of wearables or other personal products, but their communication capabilities are often basic. Connected X.0™, from the American design and engineering consultancy Nytec Inc., is a platform of technologies that come together in the form of a wearable and set of aggregator sensors. It integrates a LIS2DH12 accelerometer and relies on a smart communication system, the aggregator, that embarks an STM32F4 microcontroller. The first deployed solution is changing the hospitality industry with its ability to track people and things on property, provide secure access to doors and gates, and deliver unified payments. Connected X.0 also serves as a platform that Nytec can customize for their clients to adapt it to a wide range of applications, across oil and gas, stadiums, micro cities, smart business campuses, equipment monitoring/tracking for smart factories, and more.
On display at the ST Technology Day in Anaheim, California, last March, and officially revealed a few months ago, Connected X.0 is an example of the type of products and services that make the ST Partner Program special. As an ST Authorized Partner, Nytec uses its platform to accelerate prototyping and development operations for its customers. Connected X.0 represents 70% to 80% of the work teams would have to do if they were to start from scratch, enabling them to focus on differentiating features while reducing their time to market. End users wanting to work with Nytec get a reliable platform, since the company already deployed Connected X.0 in hotels. They also benefit from the experience of a design and engineering consultancy familiar with the importance of customizing each project to the needs of their clients. Let’s explore some of the unique aspects of Connected X.0.
Connected: X.0, The Aggregator and the Importance of a Reliable MCU
The most original aspect of Connected X.0 is its aggregator. It takes the form of a small device that can fit on ceilings or walls to provide Bluetooth coverage for the wearables via a sub-Gigahertz backbone. Wi-Fi can’t reach every corner. LTE is too expensive and power-hungry. By offering Bluetooth Low Energy in a star topology, the aggregators can rapidly grab data from the wearables, wherever they are in the building, and send them to the network. Additionally, they can also send data to the wearables, if, for instance, the security staff wants to alert employees of a potential threat. As some of the aggregators rely on batteries, they use an STM32F415RG to benefit from an optimal performance-to-power ratio.
As Vincent Ball, VP Product Innovation and Managing Director for Nytec, explained:
“ST has some of the best prototyping and development tools in the industry. We used a Nucleo board to perform our first tests and see how we could get the best performance-to-power ratio.”
As Nytec looked at various aspects of our schematics to hasten designs, it made sense to use some of our power devices alongside our MCU. Connected X.0 is also unique because of how Nytec will ramp up production. As the platform just became official, the company delivered a few hundred wearables. However, they should ship 5,000 units by the end of the year, before reaching 100,000 units by the end of 2020, and surpassing a million units by 2021. They are also expecting to ship approximately one aggregator for every four wearables. The company recognizes that it’s quite a significant trend, which is why they also needed a reliable partner that could match their cadence and rapidly increase production to meet the new demands.
Connected: X.0, The Wearable and the Benefits of the ST Partner Program
Nytec chose to use the LIS2DH12 in its wearable platform because its 2 µA ultra-low-power mode helps extend the wearable’s battery life. Power consumption significantly affects the practicality of these small products and being able to use a low-power accelerometer to determine when the user is moving and when it is safe to put the system to sleep makes a tremendous difference. Vince also told us that:
“As a design and engineering consultancy, it is crucial to work with components that we know well and trust. Using the accelerometer was straightforward because we had used it on previous projects. As we must customize every aspect of the system, Nytec can rely on the STM32 Open Development Environment, with its Hardware Abstraction Layer or Function Pack. Working with familiar and powerful components is, thus, a tremendous advantage.”
The experience and know-how that Nytec brings to the ST Ecosystem are thus essential because the work they do with our components ensures that companies can go to market faster and with better products. The company also explained that they too benefit from this network that enables them to shine a light on their designs, such as the Connected X.0. Moreover, the ST Partner Program allows them to talk to other companies about features and projects, as they start to explore our latest components, such as the STM32MP1, our first STM32 microprocessor, and already work on the next generation of devices.