Work Smarter, Not Harder

By Rich Miron

Contributed By Digi-Key Electronics

The old adage ‘Work smarter, not harder’ applies to electronics also. In electronics world, ‘smart’ is an industry buzzword. From automobiles and home lighting to the way our industrial plants and factories are operated, everything is trending towards being ‘smarter’. This ‘smart’ technology is quickly becoming a driving force for the progression of the fourth industrial revolution.

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, greater levels of communication between devices and infrastructure have been realized which enables real time decision making. Nowadays it seems that every new piece of technology is preceded by the word ‘smart’. From smartphones, to smart meters, to smart watches – everything is becoming smart.

This ‘smart’ theme was the focus of the Texas Instruments’ (TI) booth at this past year’s Embedded World in Nuremberg. In their booth, TI highlighted four different application areas that demonstrated a range of technologies for the smart car, smart building, smart factory and smart city. This article will take a look at a selection of TI products that can assist in designing products to fill the needs and demands of tomorrow’s solutions.

MSP-EXP432P4111 - SimpleLink MSP432P4111 LaunchPad Development Kit

This kit (Figure 1) enables development of high precision sensor node applications that can benefit from an integrated high precision ADC, low power operation, and 2 MB of integrated Flash to seamlessly attach multiple wireless connectivity options. The featured MSP432P4111 microcontroller (MCU) includes a 48 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M4F, 2 MB of Flash and 256 kB of SRAM, low power operation down to 120 µA/MHz active power and 850 nA standby, a SAR precision ADC with 16-bit performance, and a 320 Segment LCD.

Image of Texas Instruments’ SimpleLink MSP432P4111 LaunchPad Development Kit

Figure 1: Texas Instruments’ SimpleLink MSP432P4111 LaunchPad Development Kit. (Image source: Texas Instruments)

LAUNCHCC3220MODASF - SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3220MODASF LaunchPad Development Kit

The LAUNCHCC3220MODASF highlights the CC3220MODASF, a CERTIFIED single chip wireless microcontroller module with an on-board antenna. The MCU has an integrated 1 MB of Flash, 256 KB of RAM and enhanced security features. This development kit features on-board emulation and sensors for a full out-of-the-box experience.


The BOOSTXL-CAPKEYPAD evaluation module (EVM) is an easy-to-use platform for the MSP430FR2522 capacitive touch sensing MCU with CapTIvate technology. The EVM can be used in three different ways: 1) with a LaunchPad Development Kit, 2) with the CapTIvate Development Kit (MSP-CAPT-FR2633) or, 3) with the CapTIvate programmer board (CAPTIVATE-PGMR).


The CapTIvate Metal Touch panel (Figure 2) is an add-on board for the CapTIvate Development Kit (MSP-CAPT-FR2633). It gives engineers and designers the ability to evaluate touch on metal technology. This alternative capacitive touch sensing technology allows for elegant touch module designs using brass, bronze, stainless steel, and aluminum alloys.

Image of Texas Instruments’ CapTIvate Metal Touch Panel

Figure 2: Texas Instruments’ CapTIvate Metal Touch Panel add-on board for the CapTIvate Development Kit. (Image source: Texas Instruments)

With TI’s MSP430 MCUs with CapTIvate touch technology, flexibility, innovation and the reliability of capacitive touch metal inputs can be brought to applications ranging from appliances to portable electronics.


To aid in the evaluation and performance of MSP430FR6047 MCUs designed for ultrasonic sensing applications (e.g. smart water meters), TI offers the EVM430-FR6047 Evaluation Kit. The ultra-low-power MSP430FR6047 MCU is a device with an integrated ultrasonic sensing analog front end which provides for high precision and accurate ultrasonic measurements.

MSP-EXP430FR2433 - LaunchPad Development Kit

The LaunchPad Development Kit is an easy-to-use EVM based on the MSP430FR2433 Value Line Sensing MCU. If developing on the ultra-low-power MSP430FR2x Value Line Sensing MCU platform is planned, this kit contains everything needed including an on-board debug probe for programming, debugging, and energy measurements.

MSP-CAPT-FR2633 - MSP CapTIvate MCU Development Kit

This kit is a comprehensive, easy-to-use platform for evaluating the MSP430FR2633 microcontroller with capacitive touch technology. The contents include an MSP430FR2633-based processor board, a programmer/debugger board with EnergyTrace technology for energy consumption measurement with the Code Composer Studio IDE, and sensor boards for evaluating self-capacitance and mutual capacitance along with gesture and proximity sensing.


This EVM (Figure 3) is used to evaluate the LDC1314's inductive sensing capability in a package that implements a contactless, 16-button, multi-function keypad. This lost cost solution uses standard PCB technology and easily manufactured components that can not only use the LDC1314, but can also be used with the LDC1312, LDC1612 and LDC1614.

Image of LDC1314KEYPAD-EVM from Texas Instruments

Figure 3: The LDC1314KEYPAD-EVM from Texas Instruments is used to evaluate the LDC1314's inductive sensing capability. (Image source: Texas Instruments)


The LDC1614 EVM includes two example PCB sensor coils that connect to the four channels of the LDC1614. An MSP430 microcontroller is used to interface the LDC to a host computer. With this EVM, the use of inductive sensing technology to sense and measure the presence, position or composition of a conductive target object can be demonstrated.


The TMP116EVM provides the user a simple way to get started with TMP116 family. TMP116 devices are high precision digital temperature sensors with integrated EEPROM. This family features 16-bit resolution with accuracies of up to ±0.1°C over the 20°C to 42°C range and 0.2°C over the 0°C to 85°C range.


C2000 MCU real-time control and real-time EtherCAT communications combine in this evaluation board which features a Beckhoff ET1100 EtherCAT slave controller (ESC) and an 800 MIPS Delfino microcontroller. This board can be used as standalone hardware in order to get familiar with a software project or in conjunction with the DesignDRIVE IDDK for a servo example application. If using the TMDSECATCNCD379D with the DesignDRIVE IDDK as a two-board hardware solution, users will find that it comes with software drivers for the ET1100 and slave stack adaptation layer for the C28x.

TIDA-01476 – TI Reference Design

Using this reference design will demonstrate the creation of an industrial sensor-to-cloud end node that can connect to an IoT network gateway and cloud data provider. Incorporated in this design are TI’s nano-power operational amplifiers, comparators, and the SimpleLink ultra-low-power Sub-1GHz wireless MCU platform. All of this together demonstrates an ultra-low power sensor-to-cloud motion detector which facilitates extremely long battery life without any wiring required.

TIDA-01477 – TI Reference Design

Similar to the TIDA-01476, using this reference design will demonstrate the creation of an industrial sensor-to-cloud end node that can connect to an IoT network gateway and cloud data provider. Incorporated in this design are TI’s nano-power system timer for power gating, low Iq boost converter, SimpleLink ultra-low power Sub-1GHz wireless MCU platform, and humidity sensing technologies. All of this together demonstrates an ultra-low-power method to duty-cycle sensor end-nodes which ultimately leads to extended battery life.

In addition to all of these TI products, TE Connectivity (TE) also provides a range of smart connectivity solutions.

Board Level Shields (BLS)

For parts needed to minimize crosstalk and reduce EMI susceptibility in an application, TE´s standard BLS portfolio is available for designers to quickly obtain and resolve their problems (Figure 4). TE offers both the standard cold rolled steel material option along with aluminum options which are 1/3 the weight.

Image of Board Level Shield from TE Connectivity

Figure 4: An example of a Board Level Shield from TE Connectivity. (Image source: TE Connectivity)

Waterproof USB Type-C™ Connectors

For one solution that delivers data at up to 10 Gbps, power of up to 100 W, and audio/video input in a single connection, TE’s offers USB Type-C receptacles. USB Type-C is the next-generation solution for current and future USB applications. Having a true IPX8 rating, TE’s waterproof USB Type-C connector is capable of maintaining a reliable connection at a water depth of 1.5 meters for a minimum of 30 minutes.

In regard to making things ‘smarter’, what role can this array of products and solutions play? For smart cities, TI’s broad portfolio of analog and mixed-signal products along with their high-performance signal processing and microcontroller devices, with offerings across the complete signal chain, including sensing, signal conditioning, processing, and communications can help integrate city systems to provide ‘smarter’ operations. The smart city relies upon sensors, gateways, control centers, and efficient cloud communication through a mesh network with hierarchical elements. Flexible, scalable semiconductor solutions are required since each data gathering, aggregation, and/or decision point will have its own requirements. To this end, TI can deliver products designed to work together, enabling smart city networks.

When it comes to the automotive industry, wireless technology is playing a pivotal role in the transformation of the automobile from the humble combustion engine to a truly smart car. Because of this, one of its greatest transformations since the invention of the car more than 120 years ago is currently underway. By providing system level innovation, scalability and the safety expertise to get customers on the road faster, TI is accelerating the driving experience. In Terms of the automotive industry, TI’s products play key roles in solutions for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, infotainment, hybrid/electric vehicles, powertrain, body electronics, and lighting.

As for the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, TI’s embedded and analog products, system expertise, and easy-to-use design tools allow the digitization of systems and processes, enabling smarter, more efficient, and safer factories. Real-time data analytics, Big Data cloud, predictive maintenance, distributed intelligence, OPC UA TSN, cyber physical production system, and product-centric manufacturing are enabling technologies which contribute to huge benefits in terms of connectivity, power, security, reliability, and safety.

Finally, TI provides differentiated solutions to make buildings smarter. These solutions allow engineers to monitor and control intelligent buildings, enabling creation of efficient, safe, and enjoyable environments. To help bring features such as energy harvesting and predictive maintenance to building automation systems, TI has a wide range of devices and reference designs to aid in design and evaluation of solutions. Additional smart building applications include smarter wireless sensing which enables enhanced HVAC and lighting control. Optimized energy efficiency for greener buildings and increased system reliability are other benefits that can be realized by smart building solutions.

*TE Connectivity and TE are trademarks.

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and/or forum participants on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of Digi-Key Electronics or official policies of Digi-Key Electronics.

About this author

Rich Miron

Rich Miron, Sr. Technical Content Developer at Digi-Key Electronics, has been in the Technical Content group since 2007 with primary responsibility for writing and editing articles, blogs and Product Training Modules. Prior to Digi-Key, he tested and qualified instrumentation and control systems for nuclear submarines. Rich holds a degree in electrical and electronics engineering from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

About this publisher

Digi-Key Electronics

Digi-Key Electronics, based in Thief River Falls, Minn., is a global, full-service provider of both prototype/design and production quantities of electronic components, offering more than six million products from over 750 quality name-brand manufacturers at Digi-Key.