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We’ve long been able to get Arduino and Android to talk to each other over Bluetooth (for example, see the Android Controlled 3D Printed Slalombot), but doing that with an iOS device has required you to be enrolled in Apple’s MFi program or you to jailbreak your device.

That seems to have changed with the addition of Bluetooth 4.0’s “Bluetooth Smart Ready devices”. Alasdair Allan [via Tom Igoe] clued me into this really interesting development. Dr. Michael Kroll is working on a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Shield for Arduino based on the Bluegiga BLE112 modules:

Right after my first contact with BLE technology I was thinking of a BLE Shield for the Arduino. I really liked the Arduino BT of the Bluetooth Shield from Seeed Studio, but since these boards are not “Made for iPod”, they are not connectable to iOS Devices. The idea I had in mind was to create something similar to the Seeedstudio Bluetooth Shield where the Arduino’s Serial RX/TX pins or Pins 2/3 (with SoftwareSerial) can be used to read data from and send data to an iOS device. That said, I started a first prototype of an Arduino Shield using Bluegiga’s BLE112 Bluetooth 4.0 single mode Development Kit. Once Bluegiga’s firmware was finished and my first sketch could read and write to my iPhone 4S, l then I created my first real Arduino Shield PCB.

Dr. Michael Kroll: Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Shield for Arduino

No word on pricing [Update: the shield is now up on Kickstarter], but the modules it’s based on don’t look that expensive, nor do similar modules from BlueRadios. Even without a breakout board, you shouldn’t have much trouble connecting an Arduino to the UART on either of these modules; all you need to do is figure out what to say to them.

Tom covers Bluetooth/Arduino communication in his book Making Things Talk, and Alasdair’s looking at getting some coverage of these modules in his upcoming book, iOS Sensor Programming (you may also want to look at his shorter book iOS Sensor Apps with Arduino, which will be updated and incorporated into the larger work iOS Sensor Programming).

Brian Jepson

Brian Jepson

I’m a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I’m not tinkering, I’m probably editing a book for Maker Media.


  • http://www.ttlcpu.com awasson

    This is awesome! I’ll definitely pick one up if/when they are released.

  • http://www.mkroll.mobi/?p=440 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Arduino Shield Prototype finished. | Dr. Michael Kroll
  • Scott216

    It sounds like Bluetooth shields normally won’t work with iphones. Is that right? I was hoping to pickup one of Sparkfun’s bluetooth and use it with Arduino and my iphone, but maybe I better wait for this.

    • http://jepstone.wordpress.com/ Brian Jepson

      That’s right; you probably could get it to work if you were to jailbreak your phone. The current Bluetooth shields will work with many Android phones though.

  • Beardy

    So what’s required in the way of iPhone software?

    • http://jepstone.wordpress.com/ Brian Jepson

      At the moment, I’m not aware of any apps that use this. So you’d need to write an iPhone app yourself to take advantage of it.

      • Joe Ward

        I believe you need the CoreBluetooth framework to program your iOS app to work with these devices AND an iPhone4s+ or iPad 3+ running iOS5+.

  • jndetlefsen

    Would a BT4 module be able to communicate with lower standard BT modes (2.5?) to Android devices that don;t support 4? so by making a accessory using those new modules, could they be cross platform compatible between Android and iPhone?

  • http://ideo.com Jimmy

    IDEO recently developed a bluetooth 4.0 iOS platform.

    http://labs.ideo.com/2012/07/02/bluetooth-4-0-as-a-prototyping-tool/

  • http://www.quora.com/Heatlh/Is-there-a-wireless-wearable-sensor-capable-of-communicating-body-position-to-a-smart-phone#ans1413097 Heatlh: Is there a wireless, wearable sensor capable of communicating body position to a smart phone? – Quora

    […] a rather simple app to send that data via bluetooth directly to the phone using a Bluetooth shield:http://blog.makezine.com/2012/03…Or connect it via WiFi, and push it to the web then to your smart phone.  Sure, this is not so […]

  • http://blog.makezine.com/2012/12/02/ble-shields-in-the-maker-shed-one-tap-wireless-between-arduino-and-cell-phones/ MAKE | BLE Shields in the Maker Shed: One-Tap Wireless Between Arduino and Cell Phones

    […] a very healthy obsession with Bluetooth Low Energy; some time ago, Tom Igoe and Alasdair Allan clued me into the fact that it was not only a simple, low power communications option for Arduino and other devices, but […]

  • http://www.itclips.net/2012/12/03/ble-shields-in-the-maker-shed-one-tap-wireless-between-arduino-and-cell-phones/ BLE Shields in the Maker Shed: One-Tap Wireless Between Arduino and Cell Phones

    […] a very healthy obsession with Bluetooth Low Energy; some time ago, Tom Igoe and Alasdair Allan clued me into the fact that it was not only a simple, low power communications option for Arduino and other devices, but […]

  • http://howtomakeiphoneapps.us/?p=5048 MAKE | Bluetooth 4.0 from Arduino to iPhone: No Jailbreaking, No … | How to Make Iphone Apps

    […] … his book Making Things Talk, and Alasdair's looking at getting some coverage of these modules in his upcoming book, iOS Sensor Programming (you may also want to look at his shorter book iOS Sensor Apps with Arduino, … develop iphone apps – Google Blog Search […]

  • http://gravatar.com/sonicisdreaming Sonix

    The BLEBee by Seeed Studio is a Bluetooth Smart enabled XBEE form factor module based on BlueGiga’s BLE112 module. This is another choice for you. see: goo.gl/xkguBm

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