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For more than nine years, Motsai has provided electronic architecture and design solutions focused around wireless sensors and data routing. Since inception, Bluetooth® technology has been key to the focus of Motsai, supporting a wide range of projects — from wearables to industrial sensors to home automation.
“Bluetooth’s growth has fueled many startups that we have worked with over the years, and we discover new uses for the long-range extensions in a lot of projects that we are evaluating.”
Jean-Samuel Chenard, PhD, Motsai Inc.
I recently spoke with Motsai Inc. Founder and President Jean-Samuel Chenard, PhD about how they use the extended range capabilities of Bluetooth to power fit-for-purpose solutions for their clients.
Q & A with Jean-Samuel Chenard, PhD
What markets does your company support, and what solutions do you provide?
When companies are faced with the challenge of reinventing their products, they come to us for architectural advice, to improve their understanding of the latest development in smart sensor design, and to reduce risk and time-to-market. We cater to a broad range of companies that require sensors that can perform analytical data collection, work in an autonomous manner, and require long battery life.
We build solutions that integrate data manipulation within the sensor and create building blocks for developing solutions from the sensor to the cloud edge. Our value proposition is years of accumulated real-life data on those wireless sensors design challenges and routing methods that enable the rapid and efficient development of novel sensors.
Why use Bluetooth to support your innovations?
Bluetooth standardizes many of the key elements that constitute the smart-sensor application interface. It also provides a great abstraction layer between the wireless device and the cloud-connected device, whether in a smartphone or a dedicated router able to interpret the smart sensor characteristics. Many of the radio details and low-energy communication complexities are abstracted by the validated software stack, and, as such, Bluetooth offers a clear mechanism to ensure a flexible and thriving hardware ecosystem of devices to leverage for building the final solution.
With the long-range extensions of Bluetooth technology, we can create sensors that are applicable to the industrial IoT and agriculture. We can also safely assume that, for a long duration, we can access the sensor data using this standardized interface as it relies on a strong ecosystem of solution providers at the chip, module, and operating-system level.
Can you share more about some of the projects you’ve been working on?
A few projects we worked on require manipulating the range of Bluetooth radios.
- Water-Damage Prevention: In this project, the radio long-range extensions were used in the architecture to enable the product to cover larger installations without resorting to more advanced protocols like Bluetooth mesh networking.
- Agriculture: These projects leverage Bluetooth’s ability to enable long-range extensions to extend the reach to cloud data routers. The versatility of Bluetooth allows modes to be dynamically switched to support many interaction ranges and, all this, under software control.
What would you tell someone considering wireless protocols for their emerging commercial and industrial projects?
In industrial applications, notably, to incorporate smart sensors that feed AI-powered dashboards, the industry must progressively build their knowledge of what Bluetooth makes possible. One of the core advantages of Bluetooth based solutions is that you can start small, adding data collection points in your environment and using smartphones or laptops to collect data from Bluetooth enabled sensors without investing too much in the infrastructure. The use of the latest chipsets allows the sensor to connect to a smartphone, download data faster, and retain the ability to perform real-time cloud streaming of data over long distances as an evolution step. This flexibility of leveraging the existing user base of smartphones, and later deploying the infrastructure for constant monitoring and feeding cloud databases, is one of the key benefits of Bluetooth.
What would you tell someone who thinks Bluetooth is ONLY a short-range technology?
Have a look at our latest article that we put together with Fanstel Corporation. With proper antenna tuning and long-range extensions, you can reach distances that compete head-on with less-established, low-power wide-area networking (LPWAN) solutions, but you retain this unique ability to interact and configure sensors with your smartphone. Bluetooth will not replace every LPWAN solution, but it should certainly be analyzed against other approaches as it will be winning key decision points for its cost-effectiveness and versatility.