AI and machine learning easily accessible on wireless IoT chips for first time

22-01-2021 | Nordic | Design & Manufacture

Nordic Semiconductor has entered into a partnership with Edge Impulse, a leading provider of what’s termed ‘tiny machine learning’ or ‘TinyML’ tools intended to run on resource-constrained semiconductor devices. All of Nordic's nRF52 and nRF53 Series BLE chips will now be able to profit from easy-to-use AI and machine learning features as standard. This is claimed to be a first for the Bluetooth semiconductor industry.

“What AI and machine learning on resource-constrained chips does – which Nordic will now collectively refer to as TinyML – is take the application potential of wireless IoT technologies such as Bluetooth to a whole new level in terms of environmental awareness and autonomous decision making,” comments Kjetil Holstad, Nordic’s director of product management.

“Although we have had customers build and run TinyML applications on Nordic’s Bluetooth chips in the past, before now this required quite a high level of mathematical and computer programming expertise using professional science industry and academia software like MATLAB.”

“What our partnership with Edge Impulse will do is remove all the complexity and previous technological barriers-to-entry for our customers wishing to add TinyML features to their Bluetooth applications,” continues Holstad. “In fact, using Edge Impulse tools, Nordic customers could be up and running TinyML on their applications within an afternoon. And at an ultra-low power consumption level that still supports extended battery operation, even from small batteries.”

The Nordic Edge Impulse partnership will focus on Edge Impulse’s Impulse Edge Optimized Neural (EON) compiler that is claimed to optimise computer processing and memory usage by up to 50% when running TinyML on resource-constrained semiconductor devices.

“What Nordic Semiconductor is doing through its partnership with Edge Impulse is bringing AI and machine learning to the wireless IoT masses,” says Edge Impulse co-founder and CEO, Zach Shelby. “By leveraging the fact that every Nordic nRF52 and 53 Series Bluetooth SoC employs at least one powerful Arm core processor on-board, and is architecturally designed for ultra-low power battery operation, this partnership is effectively democratising access to state-of-the-art TinyML within the Bluetooth market. Given the powerful application benefits of TinyML, this is going to help make the world a lot more reliable and a lot safer.”

By Natasha Shek