Industrial wireless: connectBlue expands, ships Bluetooth I/O kit


networks, wireless

Bluetooth I/O Developers Kit from connectBlue offers 12 single-bit I/O points.

More wireless options now are available to North American machine builders, original equipment manufacturers, end-users, and system integrators: Malmo, Sweden-based connectBlue AB has expanded with a Chicago-based business unit called connectBlue Inc . Among recent connectBlue product introductions is the Bluetooth I/O Developers Kit, which offers 12 single-bit I/O points, without signal conditioning.

connectBlue was established in 2000 with a number of Eriksson ex-employees as an industrial wireless system integrator and consultant, according to Pelle Svensson, director of marketing and business development and president of the new U.S. division. It then became a product company, offering Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ZigBee wireless products to device makers and system integrators. Svensson spoke to Control Engineering editors in mid-March in CE's Oak Brook, IL offices about wireless trends and technologies and the connectBlue expansion.

While WLAN products have contributed to U.S. growth, Svensson said, industrial wireless customers have choices. Svensson, involved with Bluetook since its 1998 inception, said the higher-power Bluetooth option is excellent for industrial applications, with robust frequency hopping at 1,600/sec. Wi-Fi is better to replace wires in networks, while Bluetooth is more for serial port device configuration and control applications with fairly good determinism. In the end, the technology is transparent to the device and end-user; a connected PLC can see a wireless connection as if it were a cable-based connection, he said.

connectBlue currently works with ABB, Extech Instruments Phoenix Contact , and Schneider Electric in North America, and those efforts will continue to expand, Svensson said. North American business now represents about 20% of total sales for the 30-employee company. Phoenix Contact and Schneider Electric each own 25% of the company, while ABB involvement includes the use of connectBlue Bluetooth technology for wireless PLC programming.

Ethernet, system integration

The latest and smallest Bluetooth module from connectBlue is the OEMSPA310i.

The OEM Serial Port Adapter 310 from connectBlue operates with a Bluetooth class 2 radio. The module serves as a transparent wireless serial link using the Bluetook Serial Port Profile. It's compatible with prior Bluetooth and Wireless LAN modules from the company and has short latency delay, AT command support, Wireless LAN co-existence support, and configuration via Bluetooth.

OWSPA311gi/x is a WLAN Serial Port Adapter from connectBlue, designed for a straightforward wireless upgrade of any device with a serial port. Using IEEE 802.11 b/g Wireless LAN and a "high performing" TCP/IP stack, it enables the host to stream data over TCP or UDP without the need of an external driver or a TCP/IP stack. Host connector alternatives are available, with an internal or external antenna connector. Configuration is said to be easy for the low-power device, using a PC Toolkit or AT-commands.

Other products include the Serial Port Adapter Generation 3, Bluetooth Web Enabler. A whitepaper, " From idea to a Bluetooth-based product ," is available.

connectBlue end-user customers include BMW, Daimler Chrysler, Leica, Nestle, Philips Semiconductor, and Vectronix. Additional technology applications are described in these connectBlue PDFs:

— Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief,
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