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Bluetooth LE sensor helps skiers improve technique

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A London based consumer electronics start-up has turned to Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the processing power and wireless connectivity for its ‘Carv’ digital ski instructing wearable. The wearable is designed for training, competing and challenging friends on the ski fields.

Carv comprises two ultra-thin footbeds with MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers and capacitive pressure sensors that fit underneath the linings of any ski boots; they are connected to a slim ski tracker attached to the boot’s Velcro power strap. The built-in sensors track the skier’s motion and pressure distribution during every turn throughout each individual ski run, providing a comprehensive data set across four key skiing categories – balance, edging, rotation and pressure, based on 35 different metrics. The nRF52832 SoC’s powerful 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor with floating point unit (FPU) ably supports the application’s complex Floating Point and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) computations to offer real time feedback from the sensors.

Using Nordic SoC-enabled low latency Bluetooth LE connectivity, the device wirelessly relays the comprehensive metrics and analysis to the iOS- and Android-compatible Carv app on the user’s Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphone. The app provides easy-to-understand graphical insights and ‘Ski:IQ™’ performance scores across the four key skiing categories, along with ‘real time’ professional audio coaching with actionable feedback. From the app, the user can choose between different instruction modes to suit their goals. In ‘free session’ mode, Carv silently tracks the user’s skiing performance for review, analysis and advice while stopping, between runs on a chairlift, or when the session has finished. In ‘training’ mode, Carv provides instant feedback and helpful verbal tips on how to improve, for example “keep your weight forward” and “apply more pressure to your outside ski”, through the user’s earphones/headphones as they ski.

Carv devices employ Li-Poly batteries to provide several days of regular usage before recharge, thanks in part to the ultra-low power characteristics of the Nordic SoC. The nRF52832 has been engineered to minimise power consumption with features such as the 2.4GHz radio’s 5.5mA peak RX/TX currents and a fully automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to 80 percent compared with Nordic’s nRF51 Series SoCs.

“The Nordic SoC’s Arm Cortex M4 processor with FPU meets Carv’s computational requirements for real-time sensor fusion,” says Jamie Grant, CEO of MotionMetrics. “Nordic’s technical support, reference designs, and software development kits (SDKs) with working examples also proved extremely helpful for us in the development process.”

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