Something I have been building in my free time over Xmas for some friends. Some wireless smart watches that can be used to help find friends and communicate at festivals and other locations outside of mobile range or places too loud to use radios.
They create their own wireless mesh network so no need for anything more than just a few of them, also has a beeper and vibration motor so they can vibrate and beep when you come into range of someone you have not seen for a while
And because I like a challenge all coded on an 8bit processor with <30KB flash and 2KB ram (and still have room to grow). This allows me to get 48hrs battery life but also has USB charging without using and advanced power optimization in code (like sleep or synchronized time slotted wireless).
Decided to change the form factor to a more candy bar shape as would be much more durable than a watch
Prototype/relay node. These guys are much bigger but have proven to have a range of over a km from
Unlike messaging on most devices the watches work on a word list (text fragment) system.
This means that most sentences can be formed using the following structure:
[Who/Name] & [Action] & [Location/Item] & [State/Extra]
This means using predefined text fragment system you can create a messages like
"Robert" "bring" "snacks" "please"
"Everyone" "meet at" "camp" "1hr"
Having word lists allows a user to generate a message by selecting the text fragment they want from the from the word list using the arrow keys. This also allows messages to be transmitted as a single 4byte payload and message storage to be just as small.
The original hardware design was to have it as a dual radio device utilizing both a nRF24L01+ 2.4Ghz and a SI4432 433Mhz radio and the network stack designed to be able to support this as well as radio bridging and basic meshing but with testing I found the SI4432 radios suffered from bad packet loss issues and performed worse than the nRF24L01+ so it was dropped from the final design.
For the next design I have some LoRa radio modules that I am going to use. I will still use the nRF24L01+ for proximity detection but the ESP32 does look to have a many features like WiFi and Bluetooth that could also be used as well as having a much more powerful processor for the same power cost.