We can’t turn back. Wireless connectivity is the natural progression of the digital age.
The challenge for electrical engineers and product designers is ensuring their wireless designs meet the highest performance standards, including remaining reliable, secure, and robust enough to handle the ever-growing volumes of data requirements.
The plethora of existing Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices, gateways, and sensors require that wireless technology be dependable and compatible with many wireless protocols. This need will only grow as more technologies such as connected vehicles, medical and wearable devices, and wireless charging fully mature.
In this week’s New Tech Tuesdays, we’ll check out RF and wireless modules from Murata, Panasonic, and Laird Connectivity that provide secure connections for smart devices, home network systems, and industrial automation development.
The Murata Type 1YM WLAN+BLUETOOTH® Combo Module has a multitude of features and specifications for its 11.8mm x 8.4mm x 1.3mm size, about twice the size of a US postage stamp. The wireless LAN (WLAN) section supports peripheral component interconnect express (PCIe) v3.0 interfaces. The Bluetooth section supports high-speed four-wire UART interfaces. The module is based on the NXP 88W8997 combo chipset, which utilizes enhanced collaborative coexistence hardware mechanisms and algorithms to ensure WLAN and Bluetooth collaboration. Designers will use them in industrial IoT, smart homes, audio/4K video/voice applications, and gateways.
The Panasonic PAN9520 Embedded Wi-Fi® Module features an integrated chip antenna and QSPI memory that can be used in various standalone or host-controlled applications. The 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n embedded Wi-Fi RF module is based on Espressif ESP32-S2 System-on-Chip, including the Xtensa® 32-bit LX7 CPU. The parallel support of access point and station mode allows an easy setup of simultaneous Wi-Fi connections from the module to smart devices and home network routers. The Espressif Integrated Development Framework (ESP-IDF) software is included and can be set up for application development. A PAN9520 Series evaluation kit to support prototyping is also available.
Laird Connectivity BL5340 Multi-Core/Protocol BLUETOOTH® Modules feature Bluetooth 5.2, including Isochronous Channels and LE Audio, which support next-generation Bluetooth audio for stereo streaming and broadcast audio. These modules include dual-core Arm® Cortex M33 microcontrollers that run a low-power core focused on wireless connectivity. These small, robust modules are available in two variants: main module (BL5340 with nRF5340) or power amplified variant (BL5340PA with nRF5340 + nRF21540). These modules also are suitable for use in applications such as smart building, asset tracking, secure medical peripherals, and industrial automation.
Designers have plentiful choices of wireless modules. But selection not only depends on the connectivity needs of their applications. The wireless module must also meet the highest performance standards of reliability, security, have multi-protocol support, and be robust enough to handle the ever-growing volumes of data requirements.
Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.