I won’t bore you with the discussion of whether it’s 20 billion, 30 billion, or 50 billion IoT devices that are supposed to be in the market in the next decade. We get that part. However, one piece of those stats that I found interesting was the claim that 5 billion of those devices (which could clearly go up or down, depending on who you talk to) will be running some form of Bluetooth.
The Bluetooth spec has evolved very nicely, with versions that support low power and versions that support higher data rates. With those compatible specs, the applications that are available to designers are quite varied, starting with medical, where devices could include hearing aids, real-time locating systems, heart monitors, glucose meters, dosage/dispensing control, and so on.
Home automation is currently an exploding space, starting with thermostats and temperature management. Other key arenas include various alarms, like motion detectors, smoke detectors, and baby monitors. Then there’s the ubiquitous garage door opener and electrical outlet control, lighting, and appliance control, just to name a few.
While home automation/entertainment is a no-brainer, there’s an easy path drawn from there to automotive with adjacent applications, like the vehicle’s infotainment subsystem. That then leads to related in-vehicle areas, such as drowsiness detection, tire-pressure monitoring, mirror and lock control, pedestrian detection, toll collection, and vibration monitoring. And of course, all these functions would tie back to a Bluetooth-based onboard diagnostic port.
I wish I was smart enough to think of all this stuff myself, but I must admit, I had some help from Michael McDonald, Vice President of Toshiba’s Platform Enablement Group. Toshiba is going all in on Bluetooth, specifically in the IoT arena. Toshiba is positioning the technology as a way to lower costs and increase revenue for its customers. While that may seem like somewhat of a throwaway line, it’s actually true, simply due to the sheer volumes of such devices.
To further simplify design, Toshiba has come up with a bunch of development platforms, including both hardware and software. That eliminates some of the tricky parts of the system design.