Did you know we built the tool that planted the Bluetooth seed into the BBC micro:bit?

Witness the power of Bluetooth Developer Studio!

As a newbie here at Matchbox I am slowly learning about some of our core projects, starting with Bluetooth Developer Studio (BDS). This is a tool for designing, testing, sharing and implementing Bluetooth Low Energy scenarios. BDS is a free tool from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the standards body in charge of defining and promulgating Bluetooth across the world. Suffice to say, we are immensely proud of BDS.

Given Bluetooth Developer Studio’s powerful feature set and technical target audience, I approached with some caution. For a non-developer like myself, it takes a little play and research to fully understand what this tool is for, and what it is capable of. After an initial introduction to the project from my colleagues, I went on a journey of discovery. The first step was to try and use BDS, and the second step was to go online and see what the internet had to say about it.

I started my tour after a quick and problem-free installation (go here to try it yourself). As a new user, I was pleased to find full support as soon as I landed on the welcome page. The comprehensive help and the numerous links to news, forums, developer information, and video tutorials are all there for you. I enjoyed the simplicity and functionality of the interface with the ‘Designer’ and ‘Workbench’ (testing) area, and a plentiful ‘shopping list’ from which I could drag and drop a selection of elements. I set up my custom project, and managed to create a profile. If you’d like to read more about an example profile creation, take a look at his post written by my colleague Darek here.

Overall, my experience was good, even enjoyable. It may take me a little while to understand all the ins and outs of this project but I’m confident in saying that it does what it says on the tin. It certainly is an easy-to-use developer studio that cuts the learning time for Bluetooth technology, and speeds up the product development process. It feels like it is a must for all developers wanting to build connected gadgets, and it’s free!

After completing my self-drive through Bluetooth Developer Studio, I had a browse online to see what others thought of the tool. I was pleased to learn that coverage for the tool is quite extensive and positive.

“With Bluetooth Developer Studio, not only will we see more smart gadgets enter the market, we will see quality products that ‘just work,’ delivering the IoT experience consumers actually want.” – Steve Hegenderfer (Bluetooth SIG) here

The most exciting piece of news I came across was about Bluetooth Developer Studio being used to define and help implement a Generic Attribute Profile for the BBC Micro:bit! The Bluetooth Generic Attribute Profile for Micro:bit came as the result of close collaboration between Lancaster University and Bluetooth SIG. In one of his interviews, Martin Woolley, Bluetooth SIG Technical Program Manager, spoke about Micro:bit profile as the “‘important part of the overall blend of technologies that make up the Micro:bit since it’s the part that enables the Micro:bit to communicate and connect to other Micro:bits, devices, phones, tablets, cameras and everyday objects all around.”’ TheAs for the actual creation of the profile, the official Bluetooth blog says here that “One of the really interesting aspects of [the]Bluetooth SIG’s (Bluetooth Special Interest Group) development of the BBC Micro:bit profile is that it was fully designed and created in a matter of weeks using Bluetooth Developer Studio.” As I read further on Sensors online,  “‘The profile designer capability was used to define Bluetooth wireless access to the Micro:bit sensors and other features, including its accelerometer, magnetometer and temperature sensors”. If you are interested in learning more about the profile specification you can read on here.

I will continue to follow BBC Micro:bit news with excitement, and will look out for the inventions coming from this next generation of creative children, enabled by this new computing device.

As for the Bluetooth Developer Studio project, we are currently working closely with Bluetooth SIG to launch an update in the summer of 2016.

There is so much more to come from BDS and BBC Micro:bit, so watch this space!

The British Broadcasting Corporation (the BBC) introduced the Micro:Bit as a pocket-sized codeable computer with motion detection, a built-in compass, and Bluetooth technology. It was unveiled in March 2015 and after much anticipation, released in March 2016. The BBC Micro:bit comes 30 years after the first initiative of this kind, the massively popular BBC Micro, which saw BASIC-enabled computers put in the hands of generation of future programmers . Micro:bit is free for all school children (in year 7 or equivalent across the UK), and anyone else can buy it for £15.

We were lucky enough to borrow a Micro:bit for a week and test out some fun little projects on this great piece of kit.