Lots has been written around the potential of M2M (machine to machine) or internet-connected devices that can ‘talk’ to each other to enable new products and services, but what is often overlooked is that the mobile platform is in the process of becoming one of the enablers for that very technology. Combining ever-increasing levels of connectivity in handsets such as high-speed cellular LTE and 802.11ac Wi-Fi with personal area connectivity like Bluetooth Smart allows the mobile device to act as a bridge or wireless hub from your physical world into a new connected world.
One such example of a personal connected device was my Pebble Watch that seamlessly guided me round my 30+ meetings at MWC giving me constant calendar reminders, text messages and voice call notifications all pushed from my bluetooth connected smartphone – the most organized I have ever been at MWC!! Pebble is an exciting ARM Cortex™-M3 micorcontroller-powered example of a very low power, wearable device connected to your smartphone – and in-turn to the internet.
ARM partner, Sierra Wireless who specializes in the cellular M2M device market announced and showcased its new AirPrime Module at the show. What is new about this is the fusion of a cellular modem with an ultra-low power ARM Cortex-M0 processor on the same device. The Cortex-M0 core allows the device to run in an ultra-low power mode collecting or monitoring sensor data with the cellular modem portion completely powered off. After gathering and monitoring data, the device can then enable the cellular modem and push that data to the cloud for processing and services.
Along similar lines to the Sierra Wireless system, ARM also showcased an SMS-controlled door lock system using the ARM mbed platform with Vodafone. Simply texting the phrase ‘open’ to an established number released the lock mechanism – a great and imaginative example of embedded control working alongside cellular connectivity.
How sensors are used in the mobile platform was also another hot topic for MWC 2013. We have all become accustomed to our smartphones having a multitude of embedded sensors such as compass, accelerator, gyroscope, ambient light, etc. How these sensors are used and combined to make more sense of your everyday life is something that is expected to lead to boundless new use cases and possibilities. An early example of a new class of sensor and use case for the mobile platform was alivecor who has developed a medical grade ECG heart rate monitor for smartphones, providing unparalleled levels of first-line support, triage and after-care to patients – all on a smartphone!!
All of these smart connected devices are going to further drive the need for ubiquitous wireless broadband coverage. LTE or ‘4G’ deployments continue to march on at the fastest rate of any wireless technology in history with GSA claiming 145 operators in 66 countries have now launched LTE services. To service this rapidly expanding market, the race is on to provide LTE-enabled cellular devices. Alongside Qualcomm, other ARM partners Renesas Mobile and Broadcom also announced exciting LTE products at Mobile World Congress and are set to enable the next generation of smart connected devices.
Miracast demos were also prevalent at the Congress, showing the ability to share wireless HD video from your mobile device to large screen TVs. Miracast is an interoperable standard being driven by the Wi-Fi Alliance to help drive the adoption of wireless video sharing across multi-vendor platforms. The ability to share your content from your mobile device across multiple platforms is a strong theme being driven by the adoption of the latest high-speed Wi-Fi technology 802.11ac offering data rates of up to 1Gbps. Broadcom was among those demonstrating the technology in Barcelona.
So while the smartphone is now becoming prevalent across the world as the preferred device for communications, messaging, social media, gaming and entertainment, I see that we are just at the beginning of an exciting period of utilising all of that connectivity and sensor capability to build an ‘Internet of You.’ The Internet of You is always on and always contextually aware, giving you access to services and insights to your day-to-day life that have not previously been possible.
And that includes from my Pebble watch.
David Maidment, Mobile Segment Manager, ARM, looking in particular at all things ARM based in the wireless connectivity space. Before arriving at ARM in 2012, David has held positions at several ARM Partners in both the handset and small cell space.
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