ANT+ is a reliable digital wireless personal network protocol standard with excellent power efficiency, mainly designed for gathering and transfer of sensor data, and it has become especially popular within the sports and health industry. It facilitates the collection, automatic transfer and tracking of sensor data for monitoring information. There are a number of Sony and Sony Ericsson phones supporting ANT+, both in the 2012 and in the 2011 range of Xperia™ smartphones. This means that you will be able to use your Sony smartphone with a large number of commercial health and fitness products. For example, you can use your phone with a heart rate monitor, a pedometer, or both, when you are out running.
There are number of different ANT+ enabled sensors and devices available in the market today. In addition, there are a large number of ANT+ supported apps to collect, analyse, compare and share your data in various ways. These devices and apps can turn your Sony smartphone into a main hub for fitness and health activities, as well as for communication and entertainment. To find out exactly what Sony smartphones are supported, please check out the Developer World phone gallery specs.
Today more and more companies are joining the ANT+ Alliance, which is a partner alliance striving for the growth of the ANT+ ecosystem. This ensures compatibility with other leading suppliers all throughout the ecosystem.
Developing ANT+ applications
If you’re interested in developing apps supporting ANT+, the first step is to get the ANT+ Android application API from the ANT website, where the ANT+ emulator is also available. Dynastream (the company behind ANT+) recently announced this emulator, which means it is now possible to develop ANT+ apps using just the Android™ device emulator, and an ANT USB stick plugged into a PC.
The official ANT+ profile documentation can be found in the ANT+ Adopter’s Zone. The ANT+ Adopter’s Zone also contains many other useful things such as the ANT+ device simulators which can be used to simulate ANT+ devices for testing your applications. If you have questions about developing ANT+ apps, the ANT+ forums are a great place to find answers.
In the ANT+ ecosystem, an Android smartphone could be used in several different ways. It could be the sensor broadcasting data, or the receiver storing data and possibly displaying it. But it could also be the Internet gateway to publish data. Or, it could be everything at once. To find out more about ANT+ and the latest news about the ANT+ emulator, we spoke with Jeff Fung, who is one of the main developers at Dynastream.
So Jeff, what makes ANT+ such an interesting technology for developers?
I think it’s an exciting technology, not only because it allows the phone to be used as a display device for the millions of ANT+ biking, running and heart rate sensors that are already in the consumer’s hands, but also because it opens up many new possibilities for phone connectivity in other areas, such as connecting to ANT+ health and activity monitoring devices, geocache tags, and ANT+ enabled light electric vehicles. All of these use cases are defined in published ANT+ profiles available to ANT+ adopters at the ANT website.
What’s so good about the ANT wireless protocol?
The flexibility of the ANT wireless protocol allows for low power connectivity between all ANT-enabled devices regardless of their role (master/slave) on other networks. Peer connections between phones as well as connections between phones and other “hub” or master devices, allow for some interesting use cases. One example could be to use sports watches and bicycle computers to control the phone’s calling, music, messaging, and camera functions.
How does the new ANT+ emulator for Android™ work?
The ANT+ emulator allows you to run and develop ANT+ enabled applications in the standard Android™ emulator running on a Windows PC. It works by bridging the ANT+ communications from the Android emulator to an ANT USB stick plugged into the PC. This allows for the development and debugging of ANT+ enabled applications inside of the emulator environment without the need to use an actual ANT+ enabled smart phone. Our hope is that this will open the door for more developers to start creating their own innovative ANT+ applications.