Wireless

Bluetooth low energy SoCs to reduce spread of COVID-19

18th May 2020
Lanna Cooper

Dialog Semiconductor has announced a new Wireless Ranging (WiRa) Software Development Kit (SDK) that adds highly accurate and reliable distance measurement capabilities to its DA1469x family of Bluetooth Low Energy SoCs.

The need for more accurate and reliable distance measurement and tracing technology has become even more critical in the wake of COVID-19.

With businesses across the globe planning a controlled reopening of their workplaces, they are looking for solutions that will help guarantee safe distances between employees and improved contact tracing capabilities, to ensure safe working environments and peace of mind for employees.

Current Bluetooth low energy market solutions for distance measurement and positioning are based on measuring the strength or power of the received radio signal, known as Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) measurements. However, these received power measurements may be inherently flawed due to the sensitivity of objects in the radio path blocking or reflecting the radio signals. 

Dialog’s new Wireless Ranging SDK succeeds where RSSI falls short, leveraging a proprietary radar-like implementation for highly improved distance measurement accuracy between BLE connected devices. By interleaving Bluetooth LE data packets with constant tone frequency exchanges, the DA1469x on-chip 2.4GHz radio generates the signals needed for phase-based ranging.

The high resolution on-chip sampling of radio waves provides high quality IQ samples that form the input for distance determination. Data processing algorithms filter the data for noise, interference and reflections, to produce the shortest over-the-air signal path length as an accurate distance output.

The BLE compliant stack and WiRa software implementation that Dialog offers does not require hardware adaptations or an external host processor, ensuring co-existence between the Bluetooth communication and the distance measurement process.

“Dialog’s Bluetooth low energy solutions are already finding their way into a variety of products to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Sean McGrath, Senior Vice President, Connectivity and Audio Business Group.

“By adding unique, accurate distance measurement capabilities to our DA1469x SoCs, we expect to accelerate more tracing type applications and products into deployment on a global scale over the next few months. My expectation and hope is that this may help to significantly slow or stop the spread of the virus.”

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