Before we address what on earth ANT/ANT+ is, let’s rewind a little with some background.
Nokia has a habit of not revealing all hardware features in their devices. Secret little Easter eggs if you will, as opposed to blatant marketing fail :p. Examples? N95 and accelerometer, N800 and FM Radio, C7 with a NFC Chip and for quite some time we didn’t really know that a quite a selection of Nokia’s current line up had the capability for a feature called HD voice.
Now, remember the Nokia N8 tear down by the iFixit folks in October – image above. The folks at Blog-n8.fr have noticed something suspicious looking.
They think it contains this chip, from chipwork’s teardown of the Motorola Droid X
Chip works describes this simply as ” another design win with the WLAN Bluetooth/FM combination chip.”
And here’s a crop from our iFixit’s image. @fneuf reckons it’s the same chip.
Judging by these links fneuf provides it seems it is:
“For the Symbian Foundation, the WLAN adaptation package represents another major milestone in fostering one of the largest open source transitions in the industry. For TI, this package represents the introduction of the TI WiLink™ 6.0 WLAN driver (running on WL1271) as a key component of Symbian^3.”
Next, the Bill of Materials from iSuppli
What’s so special about that?
Doing a search for WL1271 reveals that it is indeed a “WiLink™ 6.0 single-chip WLAN, Bluetooth® and FM solutions“. fneuf lists the same source.
On the “Powerful Bluetooth Core part” it shows
- Best-in-class RF performance
- Dedicated audio processor system-on-chip
- Supports latest Bluetooth low-energy (Bluetooth 4.0) and Bluetooth 3.0 specifications (BT4.0?)
- Supports latest ANT/ANT+ ultra low power protocol
- Extensible to support additional protocols
What is ANT/ANT+
What is this? Basically a short range wireless connection that uses very little power. On a coin cell, where as a bluetooth device would last 1-7 days, ANT would last…wait for it…3+ years. What?! See the text at the end of the post more explanation about ANT and why it should be used.
But to introduce it, let’s have Sony Ericsson Brag about ANT+ for us!
Connect to pedometer, heart rate monitor, and several more health monitors all at the same time. Useful in the sport industry to track performance. At last year’s Tour de France, 2/3 (wow) were connected to ANT+ sensors.
So the Nokia N8 has one too perhaps? The Droid X owners are also aware but a search has shown that they can’t really connect up to ANT+ devices. Nokia has had support for heart rate monitors but I’m not sure they’re using ANT.
However, something struck my mind. A couple of days ago, I wanted to write about the Nokia Push Burton campaign which, frankly, I didn’t really understand. Through twitter I learnt a little bit more about it. One piece of information – the N8 through several sensors was connected to a Nokia N8 (Cheers @MickyFin). Is this being done by ANT+? Or just normal bluetooth?
Another from Recombu
May be totally unrelated – so we’d have to wait for someone to hack the N8 to utilise ANT+. Though you can see how it could be accomplished by ANT+.
What else can it be useful for?
- Wrist-mounted instrumentation
- Heart Rate Monitoring (HRM)
- Speed and Distance Monitoring (SDM)
- Bike computers
- Health and wellness monitoring devices
- Industrial sensors
- Low data-rate communications
- Active RFID
- Location-based services
- Utilities wireless Automated Meter Reading (AMR)
- Smart toys
- Automotive instruments
- Remote Control
- Central control of power devices
Here’s some more details from the blog-n8 folks.
Your smartphone can “talk” with a multitude of devices. Quelques exemples d’utilisation : Some examples:
- You receive directly on your smartphone in real time data from the sensors ANT + of your bike. Once at their destination, they are automatically transferred to your PC for study, via ANT +
- Sounded an alarm on your smartphone if your blood sugar reaches a critical value,
- your phone automatically dials an emergency number if your heartbeat is irregular … or if an intrusion is detected in your home
Some more ANT searching.
What is ANT?
ANT was designed to solve real problems – and it does. It is the lightest protocol available that still has the ability to scale into complex network topologies and communication methods. This means that ANT can achieve lower cost and lower power, the most important criteria in mobile personal monitoring technology. ANT achieves this by closely matching the varying requirements of devices in a network to the resources used, right down to the simplest devices. ANT finds its efficiency in scalability and dynamic range while competitive protocols are heavier in meeting the base requirements
Why use ANT? ANT advantages:
Study Chooses ANT
A brief competitive market analysis shows that ZigBee was also intended to be the ultra-low power wireless network solution. ANT, however, is 4x lower power and 60% BOM cost of a ZigBee node while providing a much simpler sensor and network development environment. Note: In a recent third party study of home security system development, ANT proved to save 50% on development time over ZigBee. As a separate comparative, Bluetooth is designed for audio bandwidth and is not capable of running from a coin cell.
Low Battery Requirements
The demands for WSNs differ significantly from less complex Personal Area Networks (PANs) and Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) serviced by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi®. To be competitive with traditional wired systems, WSNs must be very reliable, feature ultra-low power consumption (because many of the network nodes have to be battery-powered and often be hard to access) and above all, inexpensive to purchase, install and maintain. ANT is the ideal protocol to meet these constraints.
ANT offers the only available practical watch technology that enables communication between this watch hub and various sensors. The reliable connectivity of ANT+ makes it possible for various manufacturers’ products to wirelessly interface. This promotes consumer choice for best-in-class products – a critical element in the viability, growth and success of any technological innovation. Still fulfilling market need, SensRcore allows designers to immediately utilize the wireless protocol in myriad applications. And ANT’s single chip solution minimizes cost and footprint for tomorrow’s increasingly smaller device designs.
Is this something you might find useful? Will Nokia acknowledge the presence of ANT/ANT+ in future firmware updates?