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Date: 28-05-14

3.5mm audio jack for data connectivity solution from NXP

NXP Semiconductors N.V. has made available a solution for smartphone to handle data communications using standard 3.5mm audio jack which is commonly found on most of the smartphones. This universal interface allows smart phones to connect to external sensors, switches, peripherals and other devices.

NXP solution is based on University of Michigan's Project HiJack which was designed to offer plug and go connectivity to smart phones to connect to wearable medical and fitness devices, gaming controllers, and toys, to diagnostics and maintenance tools.

"Smartphone user interfaces and connectivity features have revolutionized personal communication. The new Smartphone Quick-Jack Solution makes it exceptionally easy to take advantage of those same appealing features when designing end products, from something as sophisticated as a portable air-quality monitor, to something as rewarding as a child's toy with changeable/uploadable features," said Jim Trent, vice president and general manager, business line microcontrollers, NXP Semiconductors.

"We initially designed HiJack to create a universal way to connect low-cost sensor devices easily and securely to any brand of smartphone, tablet, or even PC," said Prabal Dutta, Assistant Professor, EECS , University of Michigan. "Today, the applications for audio jack connectivity have exploded, from our original vision of low-cost measurement instruments, to mobile entertainment, secure card readers, remote controls, personal medical monitors and many more."

The Smartphone Quick-Jack Solution is a board designed using LPC812 microcontroller to handle decoding/encoding of the Manchester algorithm (enabling use of the left audio channel for data transport) and communication with external peripherals.
Source code for the LPC812 is available free and is ready to use with NXP LPCXpresso tools. A standard extension header for easy connection of sensors, switches, HMI peripherals, or data- collection devices is also offered by NXP.
The Solution also includes energy harvesting circuit that draws power from the smartphone over the right audio channel to power the board and attached components and , an onboard miniature joystick to visualize data/signals and control the smartphone UI in the example application.

NXP is offering a competition for designers asking them to create application using Quick-Jack board and enter a free drawing to win one of five boards to help their idea become a reality. The contest is now open and entries will be accepted until June 20, 2014.

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