The Internet of Things, beacons and The Physical Web are today’s hot topics. Soon we'll be surrounded by small intelligent sensor nodes that analyze the environment and offer people more content on their smartphones.
Many traditional proximity beacon products are already available, but what the market is truly lacking is a capable open-sourced device.
We decided to change this.
A year ago we started a design process with one goal: to create a superior open-source sensor beacon platform to fulfill the needs of developers, makers, hobbyists, students, IoT companies and even normal people.
We managed to create one of the most advanced Bluetooth sensor products in the world.
What is it?
By having a way to measure:
- Ambient temperature
- Relative humidity
- Barometric pressure
It’s possible to cover several use-cases. And no need to worry about charging the device: the battery has the potential to last up to 10 years depending on the SW used.
RuuviTag is compatible with both Android (4.3.2 or higher) and iOS (8.0 or higher) mobile devices.
How to Use It?
RuuviTag is an IoT beacon that can be used for almost anything. Sounds cool, huh?
- I want one! But how can I use it? Give me an example.
We've made it simple. No programming or electronics know-how is required to start with the device.
We've prepared ready-made applications for you to use. And this is just a start. RuuviTag will be a compatible platform with many great open-source projects such as BubblePy, Arduino IDE, Apache Mynewt etc. We also encourage all the backers to join our community.
Demo 1: A Weather Station
Application on this video is very simple but still extremely useful for everyone. Because the Tag is equipped with state-of-the-art environmental sensors, we decided to make it work as a personal weather station.
Imagine all the possibilities this simple application enables!
You can put RuuviTags wherever you like to and check the sensor readings from your phone without:
- connecting or
- installing a mobile application.
Android phones (and iOS with Chrome installed) can natively show the nearby beacons.
By running this weather station firmware, the battery of the beacon can potentially last several years.
Go ahead and check it out.
Demo 2: Configuring the Physical Web
Google's Eddystone is a really powerful open-source beacon format.
This is a simple way to create the Physical Web applications of your own.
Just set the beacon to broadcast a URL address pointing to a website of your choice. From the video, Joe put one in his vintage car making it convenient and handy for the lady looking to rent a car from her mobile phone.
The Eddystone-URL is one of the available frame types Eddystone protocol has. In this demo you can see how the device can be easily configured to broadcast a new URL.
Configuration of the parameters is really easy using the GATT service enabled mobile application shown in the video.
So many ways how to use the Physical Web. Maybe you would like to hide a treasure? We call it spontaneous geocaching.
The whole idea and technology behind the RuuviTag is bigger than that. Here's why:
1) The Physical Web
You may have heard of it. The Physical Web is one of Google's projects. ...and a very cool one.
The idea behind the Physical Web is that every object can have their own website. These objects are basically beacons that use Google's Eddystone protocol to broadcast URL addresses everyone can find.
The technology is new and we are one of the first ones taking advantage of it.
2) Web Bluetooth
This makes things even more interesting. The Web Bluetooth standard allows browsers to communicate with the beacons (two-way communication). This allows our Tag to be something more than just a simple beacon.
And the best part is that it works without needing to install a mobile application.
To fully understand the possibilities this technology enables, this video gives a better (and easier) explanation:
3) Android Nearby
On this very moment, Google is rolling out a software update for the Android users with a new feature called Nearby. It makes user experience with nearby beacons seamless and is fully compatible with RuuviTags.
Nearby Notifications is a new feature allowing developers to tie an app or website to a BLE beacon and create contextual notifications, even with no app installed.
What we have created is a powerful open-source beacon platform to help you to take advantage of these new technologies.
...and it's affordable!
Let's Support Education!
Don't you think it would be great if students could experiment and learn IoT using cool devices like RuuviTag? We do.
You've got a chance to help by selecting one of the rewards where we promise to ship one RuuviTag+ to a random school. We are helping too by giving out devices for students to use.
An example: A super simple weather station that everyone can access.
Imagine one Tag with a several year battery life broadcasting sensor data outside a school. Students can check their phones for real-time weather information and learn of the possibilities technology enables -- both fun and educational.
And this is just one of the numerous ways the Tag can be used. Older and more advanced young minds could learn by creating similar applications themselves or even create totally new, innovative hardware products.
Open-source simply rocks!
Easy to Update
RuuviTag is shipped with a preloaded bootloader software. This means it's very straightforward to flash new firmware application Over-the-Air:
We'll be offering various ready-made software for you to use, so:
No programming knowledge of any kind is required to get started with the device.
In addition of the firmware application software, it's also possible to update the bootloader and the Bluetooth protocol stack over-the-air.
This means that once the best Bluetooth chip manufacturer in the world, Nordic Semiconductor, releases its new protocol stack (ie. the Bluetooth 5 support), it can be updated without needing a computer -- super handy and ready for the future of technology.
When the design progress of the RuuviTag began, we had no idea what kind of platforms would come up in the future. Recently, Arduino has decided to start supporting the same Nordic Semiconductor's nRF52 chip we are using. This is a great thing for Ruuvi users!
RuuviTag is a software compatible platform, which means that makers, hobbyists and students will be able to use the familiar Arduino IDE and its libraries to create their own sensor beacon applications.
Although it's possible to use the platform by running the ready-made example firmwares on it or create one with help of Arduino, RuuviTag is also a perfect tool for serious development projects.
If using standard Bluetooth stack and bootloader isn't what you're looking for and would like to use the serial wire debug (SWD) bus to hack with your Tag, don't worry.
All the necessary pins and buses (including I2C/SPI/ADC/UART) are available for hardcore evaluation.
We have created a custom Arduino-compatible shield to be used with Nordic Semiconductor's low-cost nRF52-DK evaluation board. Our factory uses similar shields to test the RuuviTags in production.
- Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832 SoC
- Bosch BME280 environmental sensor (RuuviTag+)
- LIS2DH12 3-axis accelerometer (RuuviTag+)
- Integrated NFC antenna
- CR2450 / CR2477 battery (up to 10 years, depending on the SW used)
- -40°C to +85°C (requires a high temperature battery, CR2450HR)
- More than 500m (1650 feet) open-air range (depending on the environment and transmission power used)
Normal Lithium coin cell batteries are usually performing ok between -10°C and +70°C (-4F° to 158°F). Please also note that walls etc. will decrease the range.
Because the nRF52 is a future proof system-on-chip software radio, also other protocols apart from Nordic Semiconductor's own Bluetooth stack can be used. There are several option available and RuuviTag is a supported platform for example with Apache Mynewt which is a really cool open-source project:
The Connectivity protocol enables creation of large mesh networks of up to thousands of RuuviTags. They can be connected to the Internet through a single gateway. A great choice for business customers.
The upcoming Bluetooth 5 will also finally bring the Bluetooth mesh communication to reality.
Many beacons does have bad antennas and it means shorter battery life.
>500m range doesn't really make sense for most beacon applications, but having a good antenna means that lower transmission power is required thus leading to longer battery life.
In the video (you saw earlier), the chip was transmitting at +4dBm (2.5mW). The next day we made a similar test using -4dBm power (0.4mW). We were overwhelmed by the result: 500 meters (1650 feet). Sweet! Even the chip manufacturer was impressed.
Innovative Battery Holder Mechanism
Using a coin cell battery was a tricky task.
We wanted to create a new way to make a connection to the battery. After much trial and error we came up with a perfect battery holder mechanism.
A patent will be pending but we don't like those.
How did This Project get Started?
There was a demand for an open-source beacon and we decided to make one.
In the beginning this was just a fun project, but we got so many contact requests from companies and developers that we decided to make the project viral and start working with this crowdfunding campaign.
We think electronics should look interesting. Especially the devices designed for makers. One of the original goals was to create an innovative beacon that looks like a ring.
Ruuvi began 7 years ago when Lauri was a student at the University of Oulu, Finland.
He launched a website for Finnish electronics hobbyists. Ruuvipenkki (a screw vise in Finnish) became a popular site among embedded electronics hobbyists. This Finland based company, Ruuvi Innovations Ltd (Oy), was founded in 2015 to continue the passion of embedded systems.
RuuviTag is Ruuvi's second project and the first one to be crowdfunded.
You can find more stories from our blog.
Lauri has lived last two years in SE Asia where he met Sharnon Tulabadi, the founder of the U.S. based company Gravitech LLC. Ruuvi decided to run the campaign in cooperation with the Gravitech.
Gravitech has a well known side-branch in Thailand. They have opened a new PCB assembly facility in Bangkok this year. RuuviTag devices will be produced using brand new SMD assembly machinery.
The factory is capable of assembling and testing up to 10,000 Ruuvi devices a day and Gravitech is also going to handle the shipment of the devices.
All the hardware and the software projects of Ruuvi's are open-source.
Ruuvi Community is contributing to the development of the projects. Everyone is welcome to join the discussion and be a part of the community by requesting an invite to our Slack team.
As the community grows, more example use-cases and demo applications will come up.
Timetable and Usage of the Funds
Multiple prototyping rounds have already been successfully completed and the best component manufacturers and suppliers have been located.
The design is 99% finished has been proven to work. After tuning the antenna it will be even better. In other words, it’s ready to be manufactured.
After the campaign is finished, the funds will be used to purchase the necessary components and circuit boards. A mandatory Bluetooth declaration fee will be also paid using the funds.
In the meanwhile, documentation and example software will be polished.
We've got so many cool ideas about how to make the most out of RuuviTag.
We're excited of what the Physical Web, the Web Bluetooth and the Android Nearby can offer in the future.
Most of the all: we’re excited to hear what kind of use-cases you can come up with the Tags.
There is one more thing we want to share with you even though it's not 100% finished.
In the future RuuviTag will be immortal.
We are prototyping an add-on board called RuuviHarvester. It's a battery replacement board for RuuviTag (and third-party beacons).
Another exciting project around the corner! ;)
What others say about us on Twitter?
Risks and challenges
We have already competed several prototype manufacturing rounds without problems, but manufacturing physical devices is always a challenging task. If we encounter any problems that would affect delivery time, we will keep customers updated.
Ruuvi's partner company, Gravitech, has done similar projects and products for many years. We believe that they are our best fit with the knowledge and tools deliver our RuuviTags on time. This campaign is run by Gravitech. They are responsible for the manufacturing and delivering of devices for campaign backers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)