Low-Power Bluetooth® & Wi-Fi® Modules offer Connectivity Combo

TI’s WiLink 8 Modules for consumer and industrial applications

Texas Instruments has sponsored the following story

A millennium ago, King Harald united Denmark and Norway; a feat honored today with his nickname, Bluetooth, passed onto wireless communication technology. Now Bluetooth has become ubiquitous. Wi-Fi is the only contender in terms of popularity for connectivity.

Compared to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth generally offers lower cost and power consumption. However, the trade-off is a lower bandwidth. This gives both technologies a place on the communications design palate. But what if these communication technologies were to unite?

Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced a line of products that marries Wi-Fi + Bluetooth called the WiLink™ 8 combo connectivity modules. The modules allow designers to easily embed Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications with low power draw. WiLink 8 is applicable to both home and industrial applications.

Wi-Fi + Bluetooth Specs of WiLink Solutions

Functional Block Diagram of the WiLink 8

The WiLink modules are FCC/IC/ETSI and TELEC certified. They support the 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency bands. Due to the module’s extended temperature range, they are well suited for extreme conditions seen in industry.

Often, the modules and software are pre-integrated within many processors. One example is TI’s Sitara processor line.

If you must integrate the WiLink modules by hand, however, the support from TI will help complete this task. To get started, TI offers WiLink 8 module-based evaluation boards (2.4 GHz- WL1835MODCOM8 and 5 GHz – WL1837MODCOM8) that are compatible with the Sitara AM335x EVM and AM437x EVM.

The WiLink 8 evaluation boards feature multi-input, multi-output technology (MIM). This allows for higher throughput and maximum ratio combining (MRC) to extend both range and bandwidth. The evaluation boards come in two versions, the WL1835 for single-band applications and the dual-band WL1837. The result is enhanced versatility for the designer, and increased performance for the application.

To learn how to extend connectivity ranges with MRC, watch the video below:

For other videos in the series click here.

When to Combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with WiLink Modules

One World Trade Center Dominates the New
City Skyline. Picture by Joel Mabel.

Among my favorite WiLink applications are those that straddle the fence between the personal and industrial realms. Among those are building automation and control systems.

For instance, look at the new One World Trade Center at ground-zero in New York. Having just opened after a dozen years of planning it is a marvel of technology. Making a 1700 foot tall building inhabitable for tens of thousands requires control of transportation, communication, environment, safety, and security. Furthermore, these systems must all communicate extensively among themselves and operators.

Recent products such as the WiLink 8 will not be found in this building. Instead, prior control module and interconnection technology is used. However, imagine the simplifications that would have been possible with WiLink solutions. Think of the copper, fiber optics, and power savings that can be afforded in such a grand scale thanks to advances like WiLink solutions.

However, the applications of WiLink don’t stop with skyscrapers. TI lists many possible applications such as multimedia, home appliances, industrial automation, ‘smart gateway’ & metering, video-conferencing, and security, even wearables.

In short, WiLink’s ability to combine Bluetooth and WiFi in a low-cost and rugged module adds an innovative device to the design engineer’s tool box. As with most TI products, the WiLink module offers engineers excellent design support along the product lifecycle from evaluation, implementation, testing, and the finished product.

Texas Instruments has sponsored promotion of their WiLink module on ENGINEERING.com. They have no editorial input to this post – all opinions are mine. Arnie Peskin