A showcase in how to work smart

31st July 2018
Alex Lynn

Work smarter, not harder – or so the saying goes. And in the world of electronics ‘smart’ is something of an industry buzzword. From the cars we drive and the lights in our home, to the way we operate our industrial plants and factories, everything is now becoming ‘smarter’ and this technology is now a driving force behind the advancement of the fourth industrial revolution.

The rise of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed greater levels of communication between devices and infrastructure that enables real time decision making. You name it, smart phones, smart meters, smart watches - it seems that every new piece of technology is preceded by the word ‘smart’.

At this year’s Embedded World in Nuremberg, Texas Instruments’ (TI) booth focused on four different application benches, demonstrating a range of technologies for the smart car, smart building, smart factory and smart city. Here, Electronic Specifier looks into a selection of such TI products (available through Digi-Key via the links provided), that can assist companies who are designing for the needs of tomorrow.


The SimpleLink MSP432P4111 LaunchPad development kit enables you to develop high precision sensor node applications that benefit from the integrated high precision ADC, low power operation, and 2MB of integrated Flash to seamlessly attach multiple wireless connectivity options. It features the MSP432P4111 MCU – which includes 2MB flash and 256kB SRAM, a 48MHz Arm Cortex-M4F, low power operation down to 120uA/MHz active power and 850nA standby, 320 Segment LCD, and a SAR precision ADC with 16-bit performance.


The SimpleLink WiFi CC3220MODASF LaunchPad development kit (LAUNCHCC3220MODASF) highlights the CC3220MODASF, a CERTIFIED single chip wireless microcontroller module with on-board antenna. The CC3220MODASF has an integrated 1MB Flash, 256KB of RAM and enhanced security features. The LAUNCHCC3220MODASF features on-board emulation and sensors for a full out-of-the-box experience.


The BOOSTXL-CAPKEYPAD is an easy-to-use evaluation module (EVM) for the MSP430FR2522 capacitive touch sensing microcontroller (MCU) with CapTIvate technology. The BOOSTXL-CAPKEYPAD can be used in three different ways - with a LaunchPad development kit, with the CapTIvate development kit (MSP-CAPT-FR2633) or with the CapTIvate programmer board (CAPTIVATE-PGMR).


TI’s MSP430 microcontrollers (MCUs) with CapTIvate touch technology bring flexibility, innovation and reliability of capacitive touch metal inputs to applications ranging from appliances to portable electronics.

CapTIvate Metal Touch panel is an add-on board for the CapTIvate Development Kit (MSP-CAPT-FR2633) that allows designers and engineers to evaluate touch on metal technology. This alternative technology to traditional capacitive touch sensors enables elegant designs of touch modules using stainless steel, aluminium alloys, brass and bronze.


The EVM430-FR6047 evaluation kit is a development platform to evaluate the performance of the MSP430FR6047 MCUs for ultrasonic sensing applications (e.g. smart water meters). The MSP430FR6047 MCU is an ultra-low power device with an integrated ultrasonic sensing analogue front end (USS) for high precision and accurate ultrasonic measurements.


The MSP-EXP430FR2433 LaunchPad Development Kit is an easy-to-use evaluation module (EVM) based on the MSP430FR2433 Value Line Sensing microcontroller (MCU). It contains everything needed to start developing on the ultra-low-power MSP430FR2x Value Line Sensing MCU platform, including on-board debug probe for programming, debugging and energy measurements.


The MSP CapTIvate MCU Development Kit is a comprehensive, easy-to-use platform to evaluate MSP430FR2633 microcontroller with capacitive touch technology. The kit contains the MSP430FR2633-based processor board, a programmer/debugger board with EnergyTrace technology to measure energy consumption with the Code Composer Studio IDE, and sensor boards for evaluating self-capacitance, mutual capacitance, gesture and proximity sensing.


The LDC1314's inductive sensing capability is used to implement a contactless, 16 button, multi-function keypad. It uses standard PCB technology and easily manufactured components to implement a low cost solution. This design uses the LDC1314 and can also be used with LDC1312, LDC1612 and LDC1614.


The LDC1614 Evaluation Module demonstrates the use of inductive sensing technology to sense and measure the presence, position or composition of a conductive target object. The module includes two example PCB sensor coils that connect to the four channels of the LDC1614. An MSP430 microcontroller is used to interface the LDC to a host computer.


The TMP116 devices are a family of high precision digital temperature sensors with integrated EEPROM. The TMP116 family provides up to ±0.1°C accuracy over the 20°C to 42°C range, and 0.2°C accuracy over the 0°C to 85°C range with 16-bit resolution. The TMP116EVM evaluation module (EVM) provides the user a simple way to get started with TMP116 family.


Real time EtherCAT communications meet C2000 MCU real time control as the Beckhoff ET1100 EtherCAT slave controller (ESC) is combined with an 800 MIPS Delfino microcontroller. Whether used as standalone hardware in order to get familiar with a software project or used in conjunction with the DesignDRIVE IDDK for a servo example application, this two board hardware solution also comes with software drivers for the ET1100 and slave stack adaptation layer for the C28x.


TMDXDOCK280049M is a HSEC180 controlCARD-based evaluation and development tool for the Piccolo F28004x series. The controlCARD contains XF280049M pre-production prototype silicon equivalent to F280049C and can be used for development of all F28004x part numbers. The Docking Station provides power to the controlCARD and has a bread-board area for prototyping.


This reference design demonstrates how to create an industrial sensor-to-cloud end node capable of connecting to an IoT network gateway and cloud data provider. This design uses TI’s nano-power operational amplifiers, comparators and the SimpleLink ultra-low-power Sub-1GHz wireless microcontroller (MCU) platform to demonstrate an ultra-low power sensor-to-cloud motion detector, leading to extremely long battery life and no required wiring.


This reference design demonstrates how to create an industrial sensor-to-cloud end node capable of connecting to an IoT network gateway and a cloud data provider. This sensor node reference design uses TI’s nano-power system timer for power gating, low Iq boost converter, SimpleLink ultra-low power Sub-1GHz wireless microcontroller (MCU) platform and humidity sensing technologies to demonstrate an ultra-low power method to duty-cycle sensor end-nodes, leading to longer battery life.

In addition, Digi-Key can also provide a range of smart connectivity solutions from TE Connectivity (TE).

Board Level Shields (BLS) 

TE´s standard BLS portfolio is available on-demand so users can quickly get the parts needed to minimise crosstalk and reduce EMI susceptibility in an application. In addition to standard cold rolled steel (CRS) material, TE’s portfolio includes aluminium material options which are 1/3 the weight.

Waterproof USB Type-C Connectors 

TE’s USB Type-C receptacles provide one solution to deliver data up to 10Gbps, power up to 100W and audio/video input in a single connection, making them the next-generation solution for current and future USB applications. The waterproof USB Type-C connector has a true IPX8 rating and can maintain a reliable connection at a water depth of 1.5 meters for a minimum of 30 minutes.

So, in practical terms, what role can this array of products and solutions play in making things ‘smarter’. In terms of smart cities it means TI’s broad portfolio of analogue and mixed-signal products, plus high performance signal processing and microcontroller devices, which provide offerings across the complete signal chain, including sensing, signal conditioning, processing and communications.

The vision of the smart city depends on sensors, gateways, control centres and the cloud communicating efficiently through a mesh network with hierarchical elements. Each data gathering, aggregation or decision point will have its own requirements that can only be met through flexible, scalable semiconductor solutions. TI offers products that work together to enable smart city networks.

Wireless technology plays a pivotal role in the transformation of the automobile from the humble combustion engine to a truly smart car, and the automotive industry is undergoing one of its greatest transformations since the invention of the car more than 120 years ago.

TI is accelerating the driving experience by providing system level innovation, scalability and the safety expertise to get customers on the road faster. TI delivers products in the arena of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), infotainment, hybrid/electric vehicles, powertrain, body electronics and lighting.

Much has been said and written about the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 as it’s more commonly known. To make our factories smarter, TI’s embedded and analogue products, system expertise and easy-to-use design tools allow the digitalisation of systems and processes to enable smarter, safer and more efficient factories.

Enabling technologies such as real time data analytics, predictive maintenance, OPC UA TSN, Big Data cloud, distributed intelligence, cyber physical production system, and product-centric manufacturing result in huge benefits in terms of connectivity, security, safety, reliability and power.

To make our buildings smarter TI provides differentiated solutions that allow engineers to monitor and control intelligent buildings to create safe, efficient and enjoyable environments. TI offers a wide range of devices and reference designs to help bring features such as energy harvesting and predictive maintenance to building automation systems.

Additional applications include smarter wireless sensing for enhanced HVAC and lighting control, easily retro-fitted wired systems for IoT, optimised energy efficiency as part of green buildings, and increased system reliability and reduce wiring costs.

TE Connectivity and TE are trademarks.

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