Big news from Texas Instruments, they’ve just released a video demonstrating the keyfob included in the CC2540DK-MINI dev kit communicating with the Iphone 4S using the GATT interface through the new Core Bluetooth API.
This is a particularly big deal because it shows the CC2540 interacting with the iPhone 4S using the stock 2540 mini dev kit without an authentication chip.
Up until this point, if you wanted to get your bluetooth device talking to your iPhone, you had to apply for acceptance into the Made for iOS (MFi) licensing program. Once accepted, you could then use a special authentication chip with your bluetooth peripheral to interface with the iPhone. For small developers and hobbyists, this was a major hurdle, since it costs upwards of $20,000 to get your device certified for acceptance into the MFi program.
Unfortunately, if you don’t become MFi certified, you can’t sell your program on the App Store. The alternative has been to jailbreak your iPhone and use BTStack, A Portable User-Space Bluetooth Stack. The downside to this approach is that it requires all your users to jailbreak their phones to install your software.
So this demo by Texas Instruments is significant because it shows that we can now develop Bluetooth Smart devices for the iPhone without the use of an authentication chip.
According to this message from Brian Tucker, Senior Software Engineering Manager iOS Bluetooth Technologies Apple and Bluetooth SIG Board of directors member:
Bluetooth Low Energy is not part of our MFi accessory program. A third party application can interact with a BTLE accessory via a new framework found in iOS 5 and OX X 10.7.2, called Core Bluetooth
I believe classic Bluetooth devices will still require an authentication chip and MFi certification though.
This is all very exciting from a developers point of view, since I’m sure a lot of innovative ideas were stifled by the requirement of an authentication chip and MFi certification in the past. Developing Bluetooth devices and software for the iPhone 4S just became a whole lot more accessible.
Source code for the iOS application is available from the TI wiki.
The software does the following:
- Connects to keyfob
- Shows live accelerometer data
- Shows live battery level data
- Shows live button data
- Can sound buzzer when button is pressed