After a new IC has been designed and manufactured, showing use hints and smart demo applications that uses the new device to potential customers enhances the chances of the IC of being successful on the market. Seeing such applications can be much more useful than reading the datasheet and the detailed description of the chip. It is also easier to understand the main parameters of the operation and the possible use case applications of the IC. Many engineers come up with ideas regarding different use cases of the IC seeing such a demo application which is a quite good marketing strategy.
In the summer of 2010 Silicon Laboratories Inc. got to the end of designing their proximity sensor and ambient light detector, the Si1140, and the samples had been manufactured. Along with getting the IC to market a claim of a demo application came up. Si1140 can be used in various applications. An interesting application is to use it in a smoke detector application.
The challenge is given, but the more versatile the application is the more attention it gets. Designing radiofrequency ICs is among Silicon Labs’ main competencies and using other Silabs products in a demo application looks good. So the goal is to design and program a smoke detector with infra sensor that is able to detect smoke and can sign it over wireless link. The controlling unit, the C8051F930 that is an 8051 based microcontroller is also a product of Silicon Labs. So the demo application demonstrates three of Silicon Labs’ ICs at the same time.
In my thesis work I designed the PCB of this application, soldered the components in and implemented the controlling software.