Passive low frequency interface features battery charge function

Dallas — Texas Instruments claims to offer the industry's first passive low frequency interface (PaLFI) device designed to wirelessly supply an ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontroller (MCU) with energy to operate even if the optional battery is empty. For example, PaLFI has the ability to remotely communicate with and power implantable medical devices, making procedures less invasive. Among numerous other potential medical, industrial and consumer applications, the device is also being used for production chain or container tracking and end of line configuration of electronic equipment such as CD/DVD players and measurement instruments.

The PaLFI device combines a low frequency wireless interface with an SPI interface which ensures ultra-stable communication within a very well defined activation/communication zone. Upcoming product class releases include derivatives with security/authentication features and cost optimized versions with smaller memory minus the battery charge function for applications such as end of line product configuration.

A battery check and charge function via RF field supports operation of hermetically sealed devices such as implants, making the device ideal for use in a variety of critical medical applications. The PaLFI memory is accessible via an SPI and wireless LF 134kHz interface allowing for access to additional microcontroller memory. No battery is required for data programming into the memory to allow an MCU to read content and use it for configuration, or calibration purposes once connected to the battery. Further, the device can supply a battery powered MSP430 MCU with energy and operate the microcontroller even if the battery is empty ensuring data is still available and not getting lost. Another key advantage is the low frequency band (LF) that ensures stable communication within a well defined reading zone.

The TMS37157 PaLFI comes in a 16-pin QFN package. The PaLFI evaluation kit eZ430-TMS37157 contains an eZ430 MSP430F1612 USB development stick, and an MSP430 target board including an MSP430F2274 plus the TMS37157 PaLFI.

In addition to the PaLFI evaluation kit, Amber Wireless offers the Gateway AMB3020 to help developers to jumpstart their PaLFI-based designs. This kit contains a board with the PaLFI TMS37157 and the AMB8425 868 MHz radio module, which includes an MSP430F2272 host controller as well as a CC1101 RF transceiver. Additionally, the kit includes an AMB8465 USB transceiver stick which acts as the host for battery-powered, high-speed, long-range communication. The typical application is an active tag, triggered by the low frequency PaLFI interface for container tracking.

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