Keep track of your personal belongings with PebbleBee Bluetooth® Smart Tag

PebbleBee is a Bluetooth®-enabled tracking tag that uses the single-chip CSR1010™ to help its customers never lose their personal belongings again. Its Kickstarter campaign struck up over 3,000 backers contributing over $200,000 – ten times the original target – to help make the vision a reality. Founder and CEO David Daoura spoke to CSR to give his insight on how Bluetooth Smart is helping bring the PebbleBee to market.

What is it about the PebbleBee device that is so exciting?

People don’t want to lose things. On average you spend ten minutes a day looking for things you’ve misplaced, or 20 minutes for me! That’s lost time you’ll never get back. By placing a PebbleBee on your treasured items, you can quickly locate them and never lose anything. That’s the basic feature of the device.

Furthermore, by using the CSR1010 we can provide extra functionality for people such as remotely taking selfies with your phone, setting range alerts, keeping track of your items’ location history on Google maps, and much more. All that in an affordable, sleek and small functional device.

IMG_5035

When developing the PebbleBee what were the top things you wanted to achieve?

Firstly we wanted to create a quality, compact product with a sleek design that is durable. The main purpose of the device is for loss prevention and lost item recovery, meaning it needed multiple embedded sensors for monitoring the environment at an extended range. It also needed to have a replaceable battery with a long life.

Why did you choose to work with CSR?

We chose to work with CSR for a number of reasons including that the CSR1010 is the most widely used Bluetooth chip. CSR also has very responsive customer support and competitive pricing. We are also interested in the cutting edge technology produced by the CSR team, for example CSRmesh networking.

How do you think the market for smart trackers and sensors will evolve over the next five years?

It really depends on the battery and Bluetooth chip technology. Power management is what it all boils down to. The more power you can harness or conserve for a small device, the more user friendly it is. This translates to more people adopting and using this Internet of Sensors market. We aren’t just a manufacturer of tracker devices, we mainly focus on sensors. People want to know how active their pets are while they’re at work or who ripped that pillow apart at 3:00am. With sensors all of that information is available to you from the comfort of your mobile phone or tablet.

In the next five to seven years from now, I think the smart tracker market will be as big, if not bigger than the cell phone market is today. The devices will be so small that you can stick them on paper and won’t know the difference. High value assets in mail, items, toys and even merchandise and clothing will all have some sort of tracking device on them. Retailers will use them as they do today with RFID, but with Bluetooth Smart instead. The key is improved battery technology that is smaller, more efficient, and thin as a film and Bluetooth Smart chips and sensors that hardly consume any energy.

Pebblebee founders Nick Pearson-Franks (left) and David Daoura (right)

Pebblebee founders Nick Pearson-Franks (left) and David Daoura (right)

Posted in Applications and Markets, Bluetooth Smart, Connectivity, Technology, Wearables | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking automotive positioning to the next level

We’ve demoed a lot of new and improved solutions at Telematics Munich 2014 – the connected car just gets more intricate and exciting with each event. For me however, the most exciting of CSR’s announcements has been the latest software releases for our SiRFstarV™ 5ea auto-grade quad-GNSS location platform. We are now offering concurrent use of GPS and BeiDou (BDS) satellite constellations as well as major updates to the our SiRFDRive® software dead reckoning (DR) algorithms (you can read the press release for more details here).

Many Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs are frustrated with the overall positioning performance and associated route guidance in challenging environments such as Chicago and Tokyo. In particular, they struggle with corner cases where inaccurate positioning leads the navigation application to believe the vehicle is on the wrong street or at the wrong place on the right street.

This can result in incorrect guidance which will persist until the system recovers and gets an accurate position.  In the case of telematics systems supporting emergency responses and stolen vehicle tracking services, providing accurate positioning at all times and in all environments is critical for effective service delivery.

Another benefit is that because GNSS and DR integrate with the navigation applications and thereby simplifying map matching, the overall solution is far more accurate. It reduces the efforts for such integration activities (and associated costs), and it also shortens the time to market of the navigation and telematics systems.

The two key ingredients in making the improvements are:

1) Concurrent multi-constellation support using GPS + GLONASS provides access to more satellites, increasing availability and the accuracy of the GNSS solution and;

2) The improved DR algorithms include elements such as better calibration of the MEMS sensors and vehicle inputs, as well as more intelligent use of the MEMS sensor and GNSS satellites in the GNSS + DR Kalman Filters

CSR is keeping a keen eye on the development of MEMS sensors since we are seeing an explosive increase in demand primarily from smartphone and tablet applications. MEMS sensor performance improvements along with decreasing cost for the sensors themselves will provide opportunities for continued SiRFDRive performance improvements.

At Telematics Munich we presented the capabilities of SiRFDRive on SiRFstarV 5ea using a video of Chicago illustrating the challenges for a GNSS system alone in providing accurate positioning in an urban canyon environment. The video, which you can view below, contrasts this to the benefits of adding the MEMS sensor inputs to the GNSS measurements in SiRFDRive.

If you are interested in a real life demo please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing auto.gnss@csr.com

 

 

Posted in Automotive Infotainment, Indoor Location, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Internet of Things enabler CSRmesh™ named CES Innovation Awards Honoree

I’m pleased to announce that CSR has been named a 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree in recognition of our CSRmesh™ protocol.  Products entered in this prestigious program are judged by a panel of independent industriaInnovHon2015l designers, engineers and members of the trade media to honor outstanding design and engineering in cutting edge consumer electronics products. We believe CSRmesh will truly revolutionise development of not just consumer smart home products, but also smart buildings in general – even hotels and warehouses.

CSRmesh allows any device to send messages into a mesh network that other devices can receive. These devices need not be adjacent; instead, devices relay messages to increase coverage. Information in messages can action other related events: walk up to your front door and touch the handle to unlock it; the lights and heating turn on, the security system disables and the radio tunes into the channel you’ve just been listening to in the car. Allowing everything to be linked – but without requiring any central management or box – means that the occupier can build their smart home one device at a time. Each new device acquired makes their home smarte.

Our main objective with CSRmesh is to facilitate smart home automation without the hassles of existing systems: no vendor lock-in, no single point of failure, easy control from devices people already own and whole-building coverage. The innovation is in leveraging the ubiquity of Bluetooth – in phones, tablets and laptops – to control and monitor other devices. Using CSRmesh, we can exchange messages within a single room, or across a whole building. You can find out more about it here, as well as details of our CSRmesh Development Kit here.

Products chosen as CES Innovation Honorees reflect innovative design and engineering in some of the most cutting edge tech products and services coming to market. It’s clear that the panel value the benefits and unique features that CSRmesh can bring to the IoT – the creation of an industry-wide ecosystem of interoperable devices that can work together to make our lives easier.

CSRmesh will be displayed at CES from January 6-9, 2015 in Las Vegas. If you’re interested in a demo drop us an email at bluetoothsmart@csr.com

Posted in Bluetooth Smart, Connectivity, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meeting the UK’s big appetite for truly wearable technology

Sales of wearable devices in the UK is on the rise, according to a new survey from consumer insights research company GfK. Ownership of wearable tech amongst Brits has shot up with a total of 420,000 units bought since January 2014, reaching a combined value of £51 million.

The research, undertaken to investigate the main selling points for wearable tech, suggests that the crossover between technology and fashion in wearables is likely to increase. 73% of those surveyed said that they would consider wearing clothing or jewellery items with integrated trackers.

Earlier this year we conducted our own survey of consumers’ views on wearable technology and our results pointed to a similar trend. The research found that 72% of Brits agree that it’s important that wearable technology devices look good and 67% think that it’s important that their wearables fit with their personal style.

However, GfK has found that companies are not yet meeting these expectations. The report states for example that there is a widespread perception that smartwatches are regarded as “gadgets for geeks” and haven’t yet achieved mainstream appeal desired by manufacturers. This should mean that we can expect new and exciting designs ahead, prompting even more growth for the industry.

In order to prove that a device can balance being both fashionable and functional, we at CSR decided to develop a range of connected jewellery ourselves.

Bluetooth® Smart Jewellery

Bluetooth® Smart Jewellery

Designed in conjunction with boutique jeweller Cellini, the pendant-style connected necklaces contained CSR’s innovative Bluetooth® Smart solution – the CSR1012™. The integrated electronics enabled the wearer to customise the colour and brightness of the integrated LED to suit their mood or to coordinate with a particular outfit.

What is also clear from this report is that the challenges faced by manufacturers extend beyond just looks. Those surveyed by GfK ranked battery life, comfort and functionality as almost equal to or more important as the device’s design. What CSR’s connected pendant proves is that manufacturers can achieve great aesthetics as well as battery life, small form factor and fast connectivity.

If you are interested in learning more about the CSR1012, visit our product page where you can purchase a CSR µEnergy Development Kit.

Posted in Corporate | Leave a comment

CSR’s DDFA amplifier gives Bluesound Powernode star power

What Hi-Fi? magazine recently awarded the Bluesound Powernode a fantastic five stars in this review. From my perspective this is fantastic as the audio performance level achieved by the Powernode is substantially provided by CSR’s DDFA amplifier technology. The reviewer concludes that “the Powernode is one of the most musical systems we’ve heard of this ilk, presenting itself in a very likeable manner indeed” – it’s certainly a glowing endorsement of our DDFA technology.

DDFA stands for ‘Direct Digital Feedback Amplifier’ and products using this technology invariably achieve outstanding audio performance levels; often compared favourably with the best linear amplifiers. We achieve that performance with our unique patented feedback architecture which compensates for any errors introduced by the amplifier power stage or power supply – no other digital amplifier technology can do this.

Sound quality is just one leading feature provided by DDFA. The DDFA architecture is Class D and so achieves a very high efficiency – over 90% – meaning a smaller power supply can be used, there’s far less heat dissipation and so the product form factor can be smaller and more elegant.

DDFA input is digital, meaning it can readily accept digital audio sources without the need for data conversion; this ensures a simpler solution  and maintains the performance level at its best.

In the case of the Powernode, a significant feature comes from DDFA digital input ability to support High Resolution Audio (HRA) – up to 32 bits and with a sample rate up to 192kHz – the Powernode rating of 24bit/96kHz is very attractive to audio aficionados. This requirement for HRA is definitely one that we are going to see more of in the future and not only in this type of higher end product.

You can pick up more on this point by reading What Hi-Fi competitive review of multi-room audio where the Bluesound product comes out on top. High-res is the leading feature which, along with the quality hi-fi sound, gives the product the winning edge.

To find out more about DDFA, visit our product page. Or watch the below video in which I give an overview of the features and benefits of DDFA.

Posted in Technology, Voice & Music | Leave a comment

Want to take advantage of the IoT? Download our latest CSRmesh™ webinar

Are you a developer looking to create a new Bluetooth® Smart powered IoT device? If so, then download the second instalment of our CSRmesh™ webinar series to find out how it could help you.

We also have the first webinar of the series available to download, which discusses the key features and use cases of CSRmesh.

CSRmesh offers a number of advantages, allowing developers to increase the amount of devices controlled by a mobile device, offering high levels of security to the network and supporting a number of use-cases, in the home and the enterprise.

CSRmesh Development Board

The latest session was hosted by Staff Engineer Dmitry Shipilov, who covered:

  • CSRmesh architecture and its operation
    • Bearer layer which transmits and receives messages and passes them onto the transport layer
    • Transport layer which decrypts messages encrypted with the network key
    • Mesh association protocol layer which securely distributes the network key to the newly added device
    • Mesh control protocol which enables control and monitoring of devices within a specific network
  • Overview of the software implementation – on-chip and Android
  • The support developers can get on our forumwebinars, wiki and video channel

 

Interested in learning more about CSRmesh? Visit our web page If you would like to purchase a CSRmesh Development Kit then take a look at the product page.

Posted in Corporate | 1 Comment

Want to offer consumers improved audio quality on their long car journeys? Experience our aptX® enabled connected car at AES LA

 

At this year’s AES show in LA, we will be showcasing the different uses of aptX® in a car and the benefits it can bring to drivers and passengers alike.

The connected car at AES will include:

  • Head unit use case – we will we demonstrating the difference between aptX and the default codec for Bluetooth in the head unit. Attendees will be able to hear the enhanced audio performance delivered by aptX over SBC while sitting in the vehicle
  • Rear seat entertainment use case – by using iPad’s in the back seat of vehicles, we will showcase the improved latency that aptX offers, ensuring that visual and audio sync up for passengers

aptX has become the de facto wireless audio codec of choice for consumers in home and personal audio. Here’s why we expect the same uptake in a car:

  1. Growth of wireless audio

aptX is integrated into the majority of flagship smartphones on the market (including devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z1 and HTC One), giving consumers the potential to stream high quality audio to the head unit. Traditionally, there has been a general consumer complaint about the performance of Bluetooth audio in vehicles being much worse than radio or CD performance but aptX solves this issue. This, combined with the fact that the CD is increasingly becoming an optional component in new models, is driving Bluetooth audio in the vehicle.

And now that some of the world’s leading makers of car infotainment systems are taking notice this could soon become the norm. JVCKenwood and Clarion have chosen to integrate the aptX codec into their products, such as navigation and audio systems and we’ve had interest from many more. aptX is a brand consumers now trust for Hi-Fi audio and with automotive electronics manufacturers such as Alps Electric selecting aptX, drivers can stream pure wireless audio over Bluetooth to their car speakers without any loss in sound quality.

  1. Long car journeys

The average Briton spends 10 hours a week – over 500 hours a year – in their car, and this is similar all around the world, so it makes sense that tech companies would focus on making the driving experience smoother, more efficient and more enjoyable.

Vehicle manufacturers spend significant amounts of R&D money to ensure each vehicle’s audio system is tuned to offer the best possible experience, greatly surpassing anything that the average consumer will spend on their home audio. Using aptX, vehicle designers can ensure that there is no audio degradation over Bluetooth in the vehicle. As poor audio can actually have a negative health effect on those who listen to music for prolonged periods, aptX provides benefits to the likes of delivery men and lorry drivers who spend a lot of time in their vehicles.

  1. Future-proofing vehicles

In a fragmented market of many handset ecosystems that have traditionally caused patchy interoperability, Bluetooth offers universal connectivity, enabling all devices with aptX built-in to link up to the vehicle. As the life cycle of smartphones is much shorter than vehicles, this makes life easier for both customers and vehicle engineers as they can ensure that future mobile devices will connect and provide audio to automobiles.

Visit stand no. 1453 at AES LA to see the connected car in action and learn more about the improved experience aptX can bring to a vehicle.

Posted in Technology, Voice & Music | Leave a comment

Get your mbed connectivity fix with CSR at ARM TechCon

Back in February we announced that we had joined the ARM® mbed™ platform, an industry venture designed to nurture the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), as a component partner. This partnership makes it easy for mbed community members to integrate CSR’s Bluetooth®Bluetooth SmartWi-Fi® and GPS connectivity solutions into existing IoT microcontroller projects.

With ARM TechCon now underway, we are present at mbed zone booth 900 today from 15.00-16.00 in the main hall showing the following:

-          A GPS board based on SiRFStarV

-          A Bluetooth Smart board based on CSR1010™

Notification of when these boards will be available will be shared on CSR’s partner page

Whether you’re a developer who wants to build a consumer wireless home security system or you require connection for sensors to an industrial control system, come and talk to us to discover how we can help ease your efforts in getting your connected products to market quickly, easily and cost-effectively.

Posted in Bluetooth Smart, Indoor Location | Leave a comment

Bluetooth®: Changing the home audio market

This week, I discussed the factors driving growth of the home audio market in a guest blog for Huffington Post. A recent report by Futuresource Consulting found that wireless products have played a crucial role in ensuring that this market grows at a healthy rate and the blog looks at a number of other key market drivers.

Celebrity endorsement, the impact of Apple as well as the growth of soundbars and multi-room audio have all impacted this growth. And with CSR’s aptX® technology delivering CD-like audio quality over a Bluetooth connection, wireless audio products are only set to continue to increase in popularity, fuelling market growth further.

You can read the full blog here. And if you’re interested in hearing more about the importance of Bluetooth in home audio entertainment, you can view the panel discussion at the recent Bluetooth World Event.

Posted in Technology, Voice & Music | Leave a comment

Secure smart lighting: CSRmesh™ leading the way for secure home automation

Many readers may have come across this story regarding a brand of connected LED light bulbs which can be hacked to change the lighting, and worse, to reveal the homeowner’s Wi-Fi® Internet password. It’s a serious issue, and it has illuminated (pardon the pun) that security needs to be considered in depth when Internet of Things (IoT) devices are being developed.

On this note, I thought it would be worth allaying any fears that CSRmesh™, our game-changing protocol which allows for Bluetooth® Smart mesh networks, could be subject to similar breaches. We have considered security at every stage of the design and as such, it primarily prevents against eavesdroppers, man-in-the-middle attacks and replay attacks, and is considered highly robust.

To illustrate this, let’s consider how you add a new device into a CSRmesh network. The network is secured using an encrypted network key. This is derived from a password or phrase that the user is asked to input when they first download the app onto their smartphone. To make the process of adding devices into the CSRmesh network easier, it is possible to publish a ShortText code, barcode, or QR code with the device. This code may contain the device address (128-bit UUID), the 64-bit authentication code, and other short information that may be relevant. This is particularly useful for deployment of larger networks.

During device association, the smartphone app will exchange keys with the advertising device and an encrypted network key will be provided to the device upon completion of the association process

During device association, the smartphone app will exchange keys with the advertising device and an encrypted network key will be provided to the device upon completion of the association process

Eavesdropping

The next phase is about trusting the new device. Once each device has its peer’s public key, then they can start to generate a secret authorisation value using a complex algorithmic process. To test this authorisation value, both the configuring and new devices share a public key and then challenge the peer device’s knowledge of this authorisation value such that they can be assured that not only has the public key been distributed correctly, but that the peer device knows the authorisation value.

Once they have authenticated each other, only then will they distribute the network key, using AES-128 encryption. This mea

ns that nobody else can eavesdrop on this communication to determine the network key. All future messages sent over the network will be encrypted using the network key and only trusted members of the mesh network will know that key and be able to decrypt these messages. Messages containing a different structure or network key, such as those from neighbouring networks, cannot be decoded and are simply ignored and dropped. It is therefore not possible to control or listen-in to a neighbouring network, nor to derive the network key from it.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

An optional authentication procedure can be employed using the private key to verify the validity of new devices before adding them to the network. A QR code or similar, containing this authentication code or private key, can be used for out-of-band authentication of devices appearing on the network and requesting access or association to the network. The smartphone, or associating device can scan the QR code from the device’s original packaging and thus securely obtain the authentication code “out-of-band”. When this device later appears on the network requesting association to the network and therefore requesting the network key, it can be challenged to also provide this out-of-band information or private key. This is then compared with what the associating device already gleaned from the QR code. If the two match, then the device is authenticated and the network key is encrypted and securely passed to the device being associated.

This authentication process therefore prevents an unknown device from accidentally or intentionally gaining access  to the network, a process known as a “man-in-the-middle” attack.

The relaying of messages through the mesh network is also securely managed. To accomplish this, each device that relays messages must also know the encrypted network key. Only messages that can be authenticated against a known network key are relayed. This allows devices that are near other mesh networks, for example a device near to a neighbour’s property, to only relay messages for known networks and not for any foreign network messages.

csrmeshloopReplay Attacks

There is always the potential for someone to steal the network key from a trusted network device, either by recording the encrypted information it is sending over the airwaves and playing it back at a later time, or by physically removing a device and reading its non-volatile memory. For this reason we prevent against ‘replay attacks’, someone trying to mimic a good network device message at a later time to try to gain access. A sequence number identifier is incremented and transmitted with each mesh message. If messages are replayed out of sequence then they are simply dropped and ignored. The network key data is not stored in a logical location in non-volatile memory, but is distributed across the memory hash table, making it very difficult to locate and identify. We would also recommend that any external trusted network devices use a separate network key that does not, for example, provide access to buildings or other secure areas.

The current release of CSRmesh for lighting supports only one network key per device, but a future version will support multiple network keys. This facilitates a ‘class of service’ structure for sub-networks within a building e.g. hotels which may require the enabling of different security zones.

 

Within the CSRmesh protocol there are also other security and control features such as:

  • Time-to-Live (TTL) counter: which determines how many hops or relays a message is allowed to make within the mesh network. The TTL is decremented every time a message is relayed. When it reaches zero, the message can no longer be relayed. This limits the size of a network and sets a boundary
  • TID message identifier: each message carries a unique TID. Devices receiving a new message compare its TID with the last few previously heard messages’ TIDs. If they are the same, that message is dropped,  meaning that messages that have already been heard before are not repeated again. This limits the proliferation of messages and prevents echoes and infinite loops in the network
  • A Seq sequence number: this maintains the location of messages within network and time. If messages appear out of sequence they are ignored, preventing record and replay attacks upon the network

 

As you can see, security is not something that is simple. Nor is it something that should be an afterthought in terms of design. It must be integral to the design of both the architecture and implementation of a networking solution. CSRmesh has been designed from the ground up to be as difficult as possible to be compromised, but it still includes the flexibility to increase the level of security over time as security algorithms improve.

Read more about the new CSRmesh protocol here. For a full list of features and information about ordering a CSRmesh Development Kit, click here.

If you have any security-related questions please post them below or on our support forum and we’ll get back to you.

 

Posted in Bluetooth Smart, Connectivity, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment