A few years back I wondered why Apple didn’t adopt NFC (Near Field Communication) for the iPhone and iPad. I’m actually happy they didn’t because iBeacon or Bluetooth (4.0) LE (Low Energy) seems like a much better (useful) technology than NFC. Especially in the context of Home Automation.
I’ve been playing around with a few Bluetooth development boards and found that TI’s SensorTag is a pretty neat little kit for $25.
So what exactly is SensorTag? It’s a developmental board that demonstrates how one could use the TI CC2541 2.4-GHz Bluetooth LE SOC. If you are based in the U.S. you won’t be able to find the TI SensorTag app in the U.S. Apple AppStore — I get a message that it’s not available in the U.S. store. You can however download the full XCODE project from TI and compile it yourself.
This is what it looks like running in iOS7:
- IR Temperature Sensor (TMP006) from Texas Instruments
- Humidity Sensor (SHT21) from Sensirion
- Pressure Sensor (T5400) from Epcos
- Accelerometer (KXTJ9) from Kionix
- Gyroscope (IMU-3000) from InvenSense
- Magnetometer (MAG3110) from Freescale
How About iBeacon?
Recently, TI released a new firmware that lets you convert the SensorTag into an iBeacon. I haven’t been able to update my SensorTag yet because it’s probably running an order firmware version that does not allow for over-the-air updates. So, I have a CC2540USB-DK on order which should allow me to update the iBeacon firmware using the Device Monitor.
Will create a new post when I get the new firmware working and update this link.
The Future Is Context Based?
One of the issues with home automation is that you have to navigate through screens to find what you are looking to control in the room you are in. With iBeacon, we will finally be able to walk into a room and our interfaces will supply us with the control options available in that room without needing to look for them!
I will be exploring this topic a lot more in future posts here on Mavromatic so stay tuned!