Swatch Group belds watch and IoT market with Bluetooth

For more than a century the term “Swiss watch”
denoted precision and fine craftsmanship in mechanical systems. Now, the Swatch
Group is working to expand that reputation to electronic devices, particularly for
the Internet of Things (IoT) and, yes, watches. In one of its first steps to
that end the company has
announced
what it claims is the smallest Bluetooth 5.0 SoC on the market.

Swatch’s research and development department worked with EM
Microelectronics, a Swiss company specializing in the design of low-power,
low-voltage ICs, to create the new Bluetooth device. The EM9304
chip
, which is now available, can operate either as a Bluetooth companion
to a host processor, or operate in stand-alone mode. In stand-alone mode, its
24 MHz ARC processor can execute custom applications from built-in one-time
programmable (OTP) memory. It can also connect to external sensors and digital
peripherals using SPI and I2C interfaces. The device is available in several
package options, including wafer-scale packaging and bare die for ultra-small
installations.

 

Swiss watch Bluetooth chip

 

But the chip is only the latest step in Swatch’s large-scale
plan for Swiss companies to dominate the electronic watch market as they do
mechanical watches. A second effort involves the non-profit research and
development organization CSEM (Centre
Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique). According
to Swatch
, the two organizations are working together to develop an entire
ecosystem of Swiss-made elements for developing small connected devices, i.e.,
IoT. The development effort is taking a holistic approach to creating an
ecosystem designed right from the start for miniaturization.

One of the key elements scheduled to come out of this
collaboration is a new operating system that is tailor made for small,
connected, consumer devices. Part of the motivation for creating a new
operating system is to provide levels of security and durability not available
with operating systems from large (mainly American) software companies. According to the CSEM, the
new OS will both provide absolute data security and counteract what seems to be
the planned obsolescence of consumer electronics. The OS is designed to last
without a need for regular updates.

The collaboration is also scheduled to include work
microbatteries and additional silicon components as well as ultra-low-power
applications based on the new OS. The organizations aim to launch the first
products resulting from this collaboration in late 2018.