Smart LED bulbs with Bluetooth low energy-based mesh offers networked lighting control and Airplay-enabled music streaming

Astro Twist employs Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF51822 Bluetooth low energy SoC to allow users to color tune and manage their home lighting from a smartphone app

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Astro, a NY-based smart home company specializing in connected living, has selected Nordic’s multiple award-winning nRF51822 Bluetooth® low energy System-on-Chip (SoC) for ‘Twist’, its all-in-one smart LED light bulb and speaker.

Twist is said to be the first LED light bulb that doubles as a speaker to provide a combined lighting and music streaming solution for space constrained home and apartment dwellers. The cordless, wireless, and installation-free design is compatible with standard light sockets, and does not require a hub to get started.

Twist incorporates Bluetooth low energy (previously known as Bluetooth Smart), Wi-Fi, and Apple AirPlay functionality. In operation, users simply screw the light bulbs into their standard light fittings and, using the iOS Twist app, setup and configure each device into a Bluetooth low energy-based mesh network enabled by the nRF51822 SoCs built in to each bulb.

Once configured, users can turn lights on and off, adjust the brightness and color temperature, or activate a night light feature. Using a home Wi-Fi network, users can also control their music from any Airplay-enabled iOS device including an iPhone, iPad, Apple laptop, or desktop. The energy-efficient 10W Twist LED (equivalent to a 60W conventional bulb) is rated to last between 12 and 15 years in standard operation.

Nordic’s nRF51822 is a powerful and flexible multiprotocol SoC ideally suited for Bluetooth low energy and 2.4GHz ultra low-power wireless applications. The nRF51822 is built around a 32-bit ARM® Cortex™ M0 CPU with 256kB/128kB flash and 32kB/16kB RAM. The embedded 2.4GHz transceiver is fully compliant with Bluetooth 4.2, the latest Bluetooth Smart specification. In the Astro Twist, the nRF51822 SoC provides inter-device communication across a mesh network as well as wireless connectivity to iOS-compatible Bluetooth devices such as smartphones and tablets.

“We previously evaluated off-the-shelf Bluetooth low energy mesh network stacks but found the performance to be lacking, and security to be weak,” says Shaun Springer, Astro Founder and CEO. “Twist leverages the nRF51822 SoC to combine an encrypted Bluetooth low energy connection with our secure mesh networking capabilities. The chip also provides us with enough memory and clock speed to get the performance we desired.

“Using Nordic’s Bluetooth low energy stack [Nordic ‘SoftDevice’] has given us the ability to create a robust mesh networking solution that doesn’t require awkward pairing or setup processes. Each device on the network―smartphone included―is individually addressable and can control or query any other node in a fraction of a second. It’s also capable of doing actions with a high degree of precision such as time sensitive operations,” adds Springer.

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