DevBoard Watch: Nordic Thingy:52 builds wireless demos without hardware

What a strange name. Nordic Thingy:52 is a dev kit for IoT app developers, with the angle of enabling wireless demos without developing hardware or firmware.


And yes, it’s from Nordic Semiconductor, based on the company’s nRF52832 Bluetooth low energy SoC, hence the name.

This combines a 64MHz, 32-bit ARM Cortex M4F microprocessor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT and proprietary 2.4GHz RF software), with 512kB Flash memory and 64kB RAM.

The kit itself incorporates nine different sensors plus a microphone and speaker. According to Nordic:

[It] enables app developers to configure, test, and demonstrate Bluetooth low energy IoT devices linked to mobile apps and Cloud platforms without needing RF firmware coding skills or development tools.

The nRF52832 SoC runs Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, an RF software ‘stack’ that can support up to 20 concurrent connections in a variety of Bluetooth low energy role combinations.

The Thingy’s PCB is housed in a 6×6-cm plastic and rubber case which includes a USB connector to charge the device’s Li-ion battery.

What are the sensors previously mentioned? A movement sensor (nine-axis including accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer), an ultra low power wake up accelerometer, and pressure, temperature, humidity, air-quality, and color sensors.

It comes supplied with example firmware, and iOS and Android Bluetooth low energy connectivity apps, which will help speed testing. Additional app source-code app is available on GitHub.



Nordic writes:

App developers can quickly develop IoT devices for a range of applications using Nordic Thingy:52. Altering parameters such as the air-quality sensor’s sample rate, or switching on the color sensor, for example, is simple to achieve via an over-the-air instruction from a smartphone or Internet app with no need to interact directly with Nordic Thingy:52’s firmware code.

More complex IoT applications are also simple to implement; for example, Nordic Thingy:52 can be configured to change its LED’s color in response to voice commands directed at a personal assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa. The voice command triggers Alexa to contact a Cloud platform which in turn instructs an inexpensive Internet-connected router to wirelessly forward the command to activate Nordic Thingy:52.

One example application, showing off Cloud-platform compatibility, is fixing a Nordic Thingy:52 fixed to a door. It could report the door opening to a Cloud platform which then triggers a text to a smartphone.

Another example is activating connected products such as Philips Hue smart lighting, such as when the Cloud platform registers the home owner’s smartphone is near Nordic Thingy:52’s location.

Sounds interesting. If you want to explore further, head over to

“Nordic Thingy:52 is the ideal development kit for app developers to take advantage of the IoT’s potential,” says Pär Håkansson, a Product Marketing Manager with Nordic Semiconductor. “And because Nordic Thingy:52 features simple over-the-air configurability from mobile devices or Cloud platforms there is no need for the app developer to go through the lengthy and complex process of learning how to use high-end development tools for firmware coding, debugging, and compilation.

“For a modest investment, app developers can start working with Nordic Thingy:52 straight out-of-the-box without needing any expertise beyond their app building skills. That enables a whole new group of highly innovative people to get their hands on a fully-functional, high-end Bluetooth low energy platform and let their imagination run free.”

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