Other Parts Discussed in Post: AM3703, CC2540, TMP102, TXB0104, TPS65950

As marketing manager at TI, I have the privilege of working with the catchy, trend-setting technologies that drive the most sought-after mobile and embedded applications. As such, I get thrilled about any advancement that paints a clear picture of how technologies transform consumer experiences in interactive and impactful ways.


At Google I/O today, we got a glimpse of one such advancement. Recon Instruments – the company behind the world’s first GPS enabled heads-up display (HUD) for alpine goggles – unveiled their Android software development kit (SDK) to the general public. The HUD SDK is fully compatible with Recon’s state-of-the-art HUD, MOD Live, which packs multiple TI solutions into one tiny goggle screen. It provides a solid foundation for developers to create Android-based snow-sport applications that capitalize on sensory data, including readings from the on-board altimeter, barometer, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyro, 3-axis magnetometer and temperature sensor. Translation: It’s the ultimate real-time snowboard and ski tracker.


Why did this SDK catch my eye, and what will it bring to snow-sport extremists? It comes down to two of my passions: Augmented reality (AR) and skiing. With mountainous terrains, state-of-the-art equipment and adventurous activities, snow sports provide an incredible platform for not only explaining AR capabilities, but really digging into real-life applications for AR technologies. Essentially, Recon’s HUD SDK provides a great reason to explore how AR applications influence the way consumers interact with mobile and embedded products, and their surroundings.


Augmenting your winter wonderland

As someone who lives and breathes technology, I admittedly – at times – start to jump into tech lingo with the assumption that people understand the verbiage. I know, however, that concepts like AR are foreign to some folks. So, let’s start with a basic question: What exactly is AR?


At the highest level, AR is a real-time view of a physical environment (for example a ski mountain) whose elements are amplified or “improved” by computer-generated input such as sound, video or images. AR adds new, virtual bits of information to a person’s surroundings to make the real world more interactive and informative. Imagine being able to identify family and friends on a crowded ski slope via an AR-based application on the HUD of your Recon MOD Live goggles. The real-time connection to social networks and GPS satellites would track their specific locations, and place virtual “bubbles” over family and friends on the mountain.


To put AR applications like this into more of a real-life view, Recon and Active Network are demonstrating the new RTP LiveView™ – an Android lifestyle app integrated with Recon’s HUD technology – at Google I/O this week. RTP LiveView technology is adapted from two of Active Network’s mobile platforms, RTP LivePass™ and RTP REALX. The LivePass platform offers information about snow and weather conditions, live destination highlights, social media integration and more. RTP REALX was used to create REALSKI™, the first AR application designed to help guests navigate ski resorts. These are the types of things that AR enables – location-specific information, and new ways to virtually interact with the outside world.


And, these examples are just the tip of the proverbial ice berg. Thousands more will come to the life with the help of foundations such as Recon’s HUD SDK, which in turn demand high-performing, power-efficient semiconductor technologies. Of course, that’s where TI comes in. Our portfolio of embedded processing and analog components provides a full suite of AR technologies that shape consumer experiences across product market. To map back to the discussion at hand, let’s take a look at how each TI part inside of the MOD Live HUD fuels AR-related features:


TI part

AR-related purpose

Sitara™ AM3703 ARM Cortex™-A8 processor

You need a device that keeps AR-based features streaming as fast as you’re flying down the slope. As the “brains” of the MOD Live HUD, the AM3730 processor provides high performance and the best multimedia streaming, along with the integration of on-chip memory and interfaces, file storage and more.

NaviLink™ (NL5500) 6.0 solution

AR applications are only as great as the data they are able to gather, and efficient tracking/connectivity plays a vital role in this collection. This tiny chip combines GPS, FM and Bluetooth® technologies for real-time, reliable connectedness.

CC2540 Bluetooth low energy system-on-chip (SoC)

As a complement to the NL5500, the CC2540 provides point-to-point contact from the MOD Live to the Bluetooth wrist remote controller and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. This enables the control of AR-based functions with the click of the on-body remote.



This two-wire serial output temperature sensor provides Fahrenheit and Celsius readings, which pop up in real-time in AR-based applications.


This bidirectional voltage level translator is responsible for understanding what direction your body is facing, and thus pin points which AR-driven “bubbles” are within sight.


This highly integrated power management IC and audio codec keeps your device battery alive longer, and offers a USB high-speed transceiver and charger, LED drivers, analog-to-digital converter for connection to sensors and a real-time clock.


As you can see, to say that I am enthusiastic about AR applications is an understatement. The road ahead – or shall I say, slope? – is a bright one. These technologies are here and now, and ready to for mountainous runs!

Alejandro Erives is TI Sitara ARM Processors marketing manager and resident snowboarder extraordinaire. Recon just upped his game!