Nordic Semiconductor-powered Sensoro proximity beacon delivers microlocation based content while also capturing temperature, light, and movement data
May 26, 2015
Oslo, Norway 2015/05/26 - Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA (OSE: NOD) today announces that Sensoro, a Beijing, China-based manufacturer of intelligent sensor technology, is using Nordic’s multiple award-winning nRF51822 System-on-Chip (SoC) in its Yunzi beacon sensor. The nRF51822 SoC provides Bluetooth® Smart (previously known as Bluetooth low energy) connectivity to both iOS and Android-compatible Bluetooth Smart Ready devices such as smartphones and tablets.
The Yunzi beacon is a small wireless sensor that conforms to the Apple iBeacon™ specification. It can be attached to any location or object, broadcasting a radio signal that can provide contextually relevant ‘microlocation’ based content via apps on the user’s smartphone.
Sensoro has optimized the iBeacon protocol to enable its operation with multiple sensors integrated into the Yunzi beacon. Yunzi includes an accelerometer to track the beacon’s exact movements, as well as light and temperature sensors to provide the user with environmental feedback.
This allows compatible smartphone apps to not only alert a user to their proximity to nearby locations and objects where a Yunzi beacon is installed, but also identify if a beacon is moving, as well as the light and temperature characteristics in the beacon’s surroundings.
For example, the beacons could be deployed in airports, hospitals or museums to provide indoor navigation and push notifications; installed in a server room to sense the environmental temperature; or used to send commands to smart home devices to change their status. The addition of an accelerometer allows users to know if a beacon has been moved, and then lock it for security purposes. In retail applications, the beacons can deliver in-store coupons to a user’s smartphone or collect data to run personalized loyalty programs.
The Yunzi beacon has a 50 by 19-mm profile and comes in a dustproof, water, and vibration resistant dual-color injection-molded aluminum alloy keel structure. The beacon’s transmission range is from 15cm to 80m, and it supports over-the-air firmware upgrades. The ultra low power operating characteristics of Nordic’s nRF51822 chip extend the beacon’s single coin cell battery life up to two-and-a-half years
“A transmission range from 15cm to 80m allows for precise and accurate positioning but also reduces the number of beacons a customer needs to deploy,” says Sensoro founder, Tony Zhao.
“Nordic Bluetooth Smart gave us a good solution combining low power consumption, high performance and easy development.”
Nordic’s nRF51822 is a powerful and flexible multiprotocol SoC ideally suited for Bluetooth Smart applications such as Sensoro’s Yunzi beacon. The nRF51822 is built around a 32-bit ARM® Cortex™ M0 CPU with 256kB/128kB flash and 32kB/16kB RAM. The embedded 2.4GHz transceiver is fully compliant with Bluetooth Version 4.2 (v4.2), the latest Bluetooth Smart specification.
Sensoro, the only startup Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella visited when he was in China last September, is the leading beacon provider in China with over 70 percent of the deployed beacon market. The Chinesebeacon-based proximity market received a boost earlier this year when the country’s leading social smartphone app, WeChat entered the market. WeChat has 600 million users and is available on almost all smartphones in China. As a result, over 5790 retail stores have deployed beacons and adopted proximity-based digital marketing. Sensoro provides the beacon hardware, configures the beacons, integrates the beacons with WeChat, and provides detailed data analytics to the retailer.
WeChat’s ‘shake’ feature means beacon notifications are not ‘pushed’ to a user’s smartphone. When WeChat is launched and a customer is within range of a beacon, a proximity icon will appear on their screen. If the user then shakes their smartphone the coupon will be delivered, eliminating the potential negative experience of having beacon notifications automatically sent to the customer’s phone.
“Sensoro is one of the first companies to support the WeChat interface,” says Zhao. “Using WeChat’s ‘shake’ functionality changes business thinking and changes consumer habits – and it improves conversion rate.”
“While there are a number of Nordic-powered beacon applications now on the market, Sensoro’s Yunzi is among the first to take advantage of multiple embedded sensors in order to provide users with useful additional information,” says Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “The WeChat integration is also a novel feature because it empowers consumers by enabling them to make a choice whether to receive information from the beacon or not, overcoming the risk of a retailer irritating a customer by pushing too many messages to the customer’s smartphone.”