Low-cost, low-bandwidth wireless Arduino to Android communications


[Joe] was experimenting with his Arduino when he started thinking about how he could get it to communicate wirelessly with his Android phone. Bluetooth is an option, but it requires some extra components, and Google’s ADK works as well – just not wirelessly.

Instead, he thought it would be neat to see if he could get the two devices to communicate with a simple magnetic coil. He constructed a small 1cm diameter coil, connecting it to the Arduino via a resistor and diode. Using the Android Tricorder app, he was able to locate his phone’s magnetometer, after which he ran some tests to narrow down the best sample rate and frequency range for communications.

To transfer data between the two devices, he had to bit bang the signal in software, since the Arduino’s UART has a lower limit far faster than the 7 bps data rate he was able to achieve with the magnetometer.

While his wireless Arduino to Android bridge isn’t likely to win any awards for throughput, it is a great proof of concept project. Be sure to check out the video below to see his “poor man’s NFC” in action.

22 thoughts on “Low-cost, low-bandwidth wireless Arduino to Android communications

  1. wow very cool…. not particularly useful but cool none the less! I would never have thought to use the magnetometer as a data interface!

  2. Well, it is a 3 axis magnetometer, he might be able to up the data rate by encoding more data in the direction of the magnetic field.

  3. @GTMoogle

    3 axis would be the accelerometer, I think he has interfaced with the digital compass… would be a bit difficult to generate a 3 axis artificial gravity interface! who’s up to the challenge??

  4. Whoa! A new (useless) idea – a shaking platform which transfers data wirelessly to the phone, using the phone’s accelerometer :D

  5. Beautiful! I’ve been doing acoustic coupling for a while now and wouldn’t like this method because it effectively disables your compass, but this is how it’s done — simple and clever

  6. I mean, this is what hacking is all about!

    It does not have to be super useful, but thats what we do!

    This might just trigger the cellphone people to install a simple radio system in their phones to make things even simpler!

    i thought this was super cool!

  7. You could use the 6 DOF sensors by making a rig that moves and rotates the phone in x,y,z, like a shaker rig modem.

    But that’s just crazy…

  8. Ok, what’s next? Having an LED dot matrix block display QR codes and have the phone decode them using it’s camera? It might actually be faster… :P

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