We knew what we wanted, but didn’t know how to get to a solution. We wanted to offer police officers a fully connector-less, robust body camera that could be worn throughout an entire work shift and still operate. The issue was that the camera would be capturing a lot of data throughout the day, so getting this information out without a mechanical connector had us scratching our heads. That is, until we learned about Lattice’s Snap short range wireless link technology.
Implementing a wireless link sounds easy as wireless technologies have been around for years. Even mmWave radios running at 60 GHz frequencies have been around for a while. However, design implementation is challenging and time consuming as it requires knowledge about materials, system constraints and new equipment. It is also difficult to find data that shows mmWave behavior with various materials. Dielectric information, for example, at 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz is easy to find, but not at other frequencies. This meant, that if we wanted to take advantage of other, less known frequency spectrums, such as 60 GHz, we would be forced to implement our own evaluation procedures to better understand how various materials will affect the wireless link. Regulatory compliance added another challenge, as expensive equipment is required to properly implement some pre-test measures to ensure we will pass tests once we were ready to submit the entire system for compliance. Therefore, we were worried that although we found a great technology, implementing the solution into our product would take us over budget and delay our market launch beyond what would have been tolerable.
Then along came Lattice, with their fully compliant 60 GHz wireless transceiver Snap modules, built with SiBEAM technology. Their modules already went through rigorous testing for regulatory compliance, and have been tested using various materials to understand the effect on the wireless link. Not only did they take into consideration the material directly within the wireless link, but also the material around the radio that could reduce signal strength or increase crosstalk. The module, which was only 26 mm x 10 mm, was optimized for both signal strength and crosstalk, which saved our team time and money to get to a working product.
In the summer of 2017, we approached the Lattice team with our vision of a fully connector-less, robust, body camera for police officers. We not only needed a way to capture and store 256 GB of recorded audio/video in a challenging environment, but we also needed to transfer the data to a PC for logging and reporting purposes. Finally, a low power solution was required so that the camera would operate for at least 18 hours. In short, we needed a robust low-power, high-bandwidth, wireless connector solution.
The Snap technology allowed us to wirelessly transfer the recorded video stream directly to an on-body storage device. The on-body storage device would be easily removable and mountable onto an external Snap-enabled dock, which would then transfer all video captured to a PC for reporting purposes.
The Snap products seemed too simple to integrate and the concept was simple: if you cut a USB 3.0 cable in half and put the Snap modules on the cut ends (properly biased of course), then the O/S, eMMC, and associated hardware would not know the difference. It was a little too good to believe so we did just that. We cut a cable, made our own proof-of-concept board with details from Snap datasheets and tested it for ourselves. It took only a connector and a few decoupling capacitors and the link was up and running with full USB 3.0 speeds. It really was that easy. We were able to give confidence to the design integration and move ahead with full product integration.
With fully certified modules provided by Lattice and instructions in regards to material options and thickness, by Jan of 2018 our demo was up and running. Lattice really did make enabling an mmWave wireless link a snap!