Nordic, the manufacturer of the System on a Chip (SoC) found in most beacons has announced that an ultra thin version will be available from American Semiconductor.
The AS_NRF51 Flex-BLE (pdf) is an ultra-thin version of Nordic’s nRF51822 SoC wafer-level CSP (WL-CSP), employing American Semiconductor’s ‘FleX™ Semiconductor-on-Polymer™’ (FleX SoP) process to reduce package size to approximately 35µm—roughly half the thickness of a human hair.
The largest component of beacons and Bluetooth sensors is usually the battery rather than the SoC. However, the Flex-BLE version will be especially suited to energy harvested and solar solutions where it will be possible to create very thin beacons that can be invisibly manufactured into products or their packaging.
We now have a few samples of the new TON9218 solar powered beacon available. The large 6.5cm x 9.6cm solar panel keeps the on-board rechargeable LIR2032 battery charged using only normal indoor lighting. Even with weak light, the solar panel generates about 100uA that’s 5x the average current consumption. Hence, with the use of the rechargeable LIR2032 battery as backup, this beacon can work almost forever.
As with the other Iotton models, the beacon has an internal timer and uses the Dialog DA14580 that provides 2x to 3x battery life of Nordic nrf51822 based beacons and up to x6 the battery life of TI CC254x based-beacons.