When we announced the Xperia™ S the other day (and the Xperia™ ion on the US market), it also meant we added new devices to the family of Xperia™ phones supporting ANT+. ANT+ is a wireless personal network protocol mainly designed for gathering and transfer of sensor data, and it has become especially popular within the sports and health industry. Yesterday Dynastream (the company behind ANT+) announced an ANT+ emulator for Android™, 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. Find out more after the jump!
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. At Sony Ericsson, we’re happy to have included support for this interesting and useful technology in the new Xperia™ S and Xperia™ ion. Besides these phones, Sony Ericsson has released several phones supporting ANT+ previously, including all 2011 Xperia™ phones except Xperia™ PLAY.
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.
- Jeff Fung 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.
So if I’m interested in developing ANT+ enabled apps, how do I go about getting started?
The first step is to get the ANT+ Android application API from the ANT website, where the ANT+ emulator is also available. 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. Finally, the ANT+ forums are a great place to ask and find answers to any questions you may have regarding developing ANT+ applications.
What can ANT+ developers expect going forward?
In the spring of 2012, we will be releasing an updated ANT+ Android API which will allow for better sharing of the ANT radio between multiple applications. The API will also add a better interface base around devices defined by the ANT+ device profiles. Our hope is that this will make it even easier for applications to make use of ANT+. Please stay tuned to the ANT website for future announcements regarding this next release.
We hope that all you aspiring ANT+ developers are inspired to get started on this – at Sony Ericsson, we certainly think this is an exciting technology. If you’ve got any questions on this topic, feel free to drop us a comment and we will try come back with an answer as soon as possible. So what do you say developers, is ANT+ interesting to you? What health or fitness apps do you miss today?