Display portlet menu


Display portlet menu

How wireless communication protocols make or break designs

WiFi router with man in the background using tablet

The design process includes many critical decisions for engineers, such as which wireless communications protocol to use. Not only does the choice point to a host of different design implications, it can also make or break the user experience of a product.

Often this choice lies between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Take the case of Music: Not Impossible, a surround body wearable system that allows both the Deaf and hearing communities to experience music through vibration. In this product, the translation and communication of the music to the harness, wrist and ankle bands is central to a user’s enjoyment of the product. However, when the engineers at Not Impossible Labs started building proof of concepts, they ran into a problem.

While Bluetooth is a great low power option, optimal for mobile devices and other small, battery-operated designs, its 30-foot range was too short for the device to be used in a large music festival. Wi-Fi solved some of those problems, offering high bandwidth and a much larger 300-foot range. It introduced another problem, though.

“When the Not Impossible team brought their proof of concept to us, the devices were prone to interference. They couldn’t scale due to Wi-Fi’s limitations,” said Erich van Stralen, engineer and Avnet’s project manager for Music: Not Impossible.

So what happens when neither major protocol works for your design?

The answer? Broadcast LoRa

Newer Internet of Things (IoT) deployments can span for miles and communicate to dozens or hundreds of machines, so Bluetooth and Wi-Fi won’t work there either. While customized connectivity solutions can work, they also take resources, time and money to complete—things most startups don’t have in house.

When Avnet and Not Impossible started collaborating to help bring Music: Not Impossible to fruition, they agreed to try something Not Impossible hadn’t experienced yet: LoRa, an emerging standard in many IoT projects. LoRa, short for long range, provides the range and power consumption benefits that IoT implementations depend on without some of the struggles Wi-Fi and Bluetooth present.

It’s a proven solution from the broadcast side, which offers longer ranges, low latency and low cross talk. It’s also perfect for a wearable that has to work anywhere from a small concert venue to a giant music festival, navigating the complex communication challenges of broadcast not only from device to device, but also around and through hundreds or thousands of bodies.

Latency envelopes and the future of Music: Not Impossible

LoRa was one of the many design choices that helped in the successful beta launch of more than 220 Music: Not Impossible products in September 2018. With that launch behind the team, the next hurdle is continuing to scale and refine the design while still providing a good experience.

“As Not Impossible scales this technology, we’ll need to focus maintaining optimal synchronization,” Erich said. “When you add another dimension to a user’s experience, if any part is out of sync, it’s just awful.”

Erich notes that while sound and light travel at different speeds, they arrive at your body within the same latency envelope—or a span of time where you perceive them to be fully synched up. When you add vibration, it all still has to stay in the same envelope.

How big is that span of time? About 30 milliseconds. Not much time to translate the vibration protocol, have the user receive it, and keep it in sync with light and sound. But that can all happen in large thanks to this less-than-decade-old protocol.

“It could have been built with something else, but LoRa enabled this in a way that other protocols can’t,” Eric said.

Learn more about Music: Not Impossible and how this transformative technology was built.


Display portlet menu


Display portlet menu
Related Articles
Smart car branded with Avnet and supplier logos
ADAS: paving the way for autonomous vehicles
November 11, 2019
In order to realize fully automated driving without human intervention, three conditions must be met - the vehicle must be fully aware of the surrounding environment, be able to respond accordingly when the environment changes, and the security of th
road view from inside self-driving smart car
Unreliable autonomous driving? Take a look at how difficult vehicle-mounted vision processing is
November 11, 2019
We all have high expectations for autonomous driving, a fact that’s exemplified by the display of autonomous driving technologies at every major tech expo. Development in this sector has however been accompanied by an increase in accidents related
test car colliding with object
Transportation Safety: 5 Protocols & Processes to Know
May 29, 2019
A dynamic range of protocols can help make our transportation technology safer.
cargo ship at port
Transportation Trends in Commercial & Non-Passenger Vehicles
May 29, 2019
Some of the most exciting technology trends shaping transportation are for commercial vehicles.
Graphic of 5G uses for automotive
5G is here – and maybe it’s time to buy a new car!
May 27, 2019
The mission of 5G is to create the ‘Internet of Everything’, drastically expanding the scale of the Internet in the process. As one of our most valuable possessions, it is inevitable that cars will join the network.
Interior of European self-driving car
Meeting Next-Generation Automotive Design Challenges
April 2, 2018
Thanks to engineering ingenuity and the electronic components that have become pervasive inside vehicles of all types, cars are smarter and, in many ways, safer to drive. As the automotive industry advances toward Level 5 fully autonomous vehicles, a
smartphone showing alarm feature
Key Design Considerations for Selecting the Right RF Antenna
March 16, 2018
Know when to choose standard, when to go custom.
Person using the navigation systemm on their car dashboard
Four tech trends that improve the driver experience
September 13, 2017
Learn about ways to integrate some the most innovative features into cars, including haptic-feedback touch screens, knob replacement, smart glass and driver-notification applications.
smart car on the road at sunset with IoT icons overlay
Mastering the road ahead
August 28, 2017
The market demand for Advanced Driver Assistant Systems (ADAS) has increased by leaps and bounds. In fact, the global automotive electronics market is forecast to grow robustly over the next few years. In particular, the market value of entertainment
side view of a sports car from the ground up
Powering the future—the hidden heroes of electric vehicle technologies
August 14, 2017
The automobile industry in Mainland China has developed at an unimaginably rapid pace in recent years and a general trend can be observed in car sales figures. A little more than twenty years ago, automobile production in Mainland China numbered only
man in dirverless car with hands off the wheel
The Growth and Increasing Sophistication of ADAS in the World
July 5, 2017
As electronics in our cars continue to become more sophisticated, ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) are taking center stage. These systems make many of the aspects of driving easier, and---most importantly—safer.
self-driving car at intersection
Top 5 Tech Trends in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
June 15, 2017
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) promise to enhance vehicle safety by helping to simplify the driving process, reducing sources of driver distraction and inattention that often lead to accidents. With ADAS support, drivers and their passenge
rear view camera on car dash with image of child riding a toy
Top 5 Myths in Automotive Vision: Designing Embedded Vision Systems Is Easier Than You Think
June 11, 2017
Vision has always occupied a special place in information science and popular culture. One does not need to be an engineer to appreciate the vast bandwidth available in normal human vision. Most people understand that the common saying “a picture i
man drawing schetch of an electric car attached to a battery
Technologies and Components for Designing Electric Vehicles
April 29, 2017
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) such as the Toyota Prius and the Chevy Volt and electric vehicles (EVs) such as the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and Tesla Model S are growing in popularity amid concern for global warming.
Man navigating an IoT car dashboard
The Internet of Things is Driving The Internet of Autos
April 24, 2017
In the early 1900s Henry Ford made the automobile affordable and accessible. But what he really did was offer people connection. Rural residents could connect with more urban areas to sell crops and buy supplies.
smart car dashboard
New TFT LCD Technology Shape Infotainment for Cars of the Future
April 15, 2017
Although the technology has been around since the 1990s, the use of thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal displays (TFT LCDs) is on the rise in automobiles.
person driving a semi
Getting Started in Automotive Smart Vision Design
March 27, 2017
Advances in embedded vision technology have heightened interest in applying smart vision solutions for automotive safety.
Graphic of a car's outline
Gesture Recognition, Proximity Sensors Drive Advances in Automotive Infotainment
March 17, 2017
Safety must remain paramount when designing interactive interfaces for automotive applications, including guarding against distracted driving.
Person using the navigation console in their car
Automotive Electronics: Top 5 Tech Trends of Tomorrow’s Smart Cars
March 3, 2017
In the United States alone, motor vehicles travel well over four trillion miles each year according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.*


Display portlet menu
Related Events

No related Events found