Nordic-powered motorcycle helmet communications unit offers hands-free long range connectivity between riders

Aptener Mechatronics’ BluArmor C30 Helmet Comms Unit employs Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC and nRF21540 RF FEM allowing up to 20 riders to be continuously connected on the road.

Aptener Mechatronics has launched the ‘BluArmor C30 Helmet Comms Unit’, a motorcycle helmet-based communications headset that allows groups of up to 20 riders to maintain a continuous audio connection while on the road. This enables motorcyclists to speak to any other member of their group while riding. The solution employs Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52840 SoC and nRF21540 RF Front End Module (FEM) range extender to provide wireless connectivity at a claimed range of up to 1.2 km between two riders.

Up to 20 connected riders

“The C30 is not only capable of connecting to the user’s smartphone, but also to their pillion rider, their riding group and their bike,” says Sundararajan Krishnan (“PK”), Founder and CEO of Aptener Mechatronics. “It delivers both phenomenal audio and a fantastic connectivity experience, enabling up to 20 riders to communicate using ‘RIDEGRID’, our proprietary mesh intercom technology. With RIDEGRID mesh intercom, riders can listen to music while having a conversation with the other riders on the mesh.”

The solution is supervised by the nRF52840 SoC’s 64 MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor with floating point unit (FPU) and the nRF21540 RF FEM power amplifier/low noise amplifier (PA/LNA). The addition of the FEM offers a highly adjustable TX power boost up to +21 dBm, with the LNA providing +13 dB RX gain, enabling the device to relay audio data from headset to headset over a range of 1.2 km, allowing riders to stay in contact on the road.

Mesh and music support

The C30 is powered by a 1000 mAh Li-Poly cell that can achieve a battery life of up to 16 hours between recharge in ‘mesh and music’ mode, thanks in part to the ultra low power operating characteristics of the Nordic SoC that have been engineered to minimize power consumption with a fully automatic power management system. The ‘BluArmor Comms’ app (available for Android and iOS) offers over-the-air firmware updates, dynamic volume control and ride management features.

“RIDEGRID is the next frontier in the world of motorcycle communication devices and the plug-and-play nature of the nRF52840 SoC—including strong hardware specs complemented by a stable and well-tested software stack—made it the right platform for us,” PK says. “Very few companies have a system view of their solutions and Nordic is one of them. That comes through in every aspect of the platform it offers and was a powerful reason for us to go with Nordic.”