BLE HID Keyboard


This is an example for Bluetooth LE HID device development, which can connect wirelessly to HID hosts including Windows, Mac, Android and iOS systems. Bluetooth SIG defines a HID profile that specifies how a device can support HID services over the Bluetooth LE protocol stack using the Generic Attribute Profile.

This example implements a simple HID keyboard but can be used as a starting point to make any human interface device.

HID Introduction

The host and the device ere are two entities in the HID protocol. The device is the entity that directly interacts humans, such as a keyboard or mouse. The host communicates with the device and receives input data from the device on actions performed by humans.

HID devices must meet a few general requirements that are imposed to keep the HID interface standardized and efficient. In normal operation, the HID Device and the HID Host exchange data through reports.

As defined in the USB HID, all data passed between a HID device and a host must be structured according to specifications found in the Report descriptor. This descriptor determines the size and composition of data reports from the HID class device. The Report Descriptor is loaded and parsed by the HID class driver as soon as the device is detected. Before the HID device can enter its normal operating mode and transfer data with the host, the device must properly enumerate. After a device has successfully enumerated, the host can begin sending and receiving data in the form of reports. For more information, see HID Specification and Usage Tables.

The HID over GATT profile is an adaptation of the USB HID specification. In this profile, the Report Map characteristic (Bluetooth LE version of the USB Report Descrtiptor) is used to specify the HID Report characteristic, which is responsible for exchanging data between a HID Device and a HID Host.

In this profile there can be several Report charateristics but only one Report Map characteristic which defines the size of the reports, and the purpose of each byte and bit in each report. Input reports are sent using notifications and they can also be read by the host.

A Bluetooth HID Device must implement the HID over GATT profile. In addition to HID Service, this profile requires the Battery Service and the Device Information Service, too. The detailed description can be found in HID over GATT Profile Specification.

As mentioned earlier, HID devices must meet several requirements. The purpose of this document is to list these requirements and provide a working solution to make the device successfully enumerate. To be accepted by the Host, the device needs to have properly initialized identification data and the right level of security.

The most important GATT characteristics will be described in details with a practical example in the next section. These properties can be customized easily in the GATT Configurator.

GATT Database for Keyboard Example

It is important to understand how reports can be structured and what are the identification properties that an HID device needs to enumerate properly. This section goes through the required attributes with description and an example. As mentioned earlier, the HID over GATT Profile needs several services.

Generic Access Service

Appearance characteristic: contains a 16-bit number that can be mapped to an icon or string that describes the physical representation of the device during the device discovery procedure.

This example implements a keyboard and its standard appearance value is 0xC103.

Device Information Service

PnP ID Characteristic: a set of values that are used to create a device ID value that is unique for this device. Included in the characteristic are a Vendor ID source field, a Vendor ID field, a Product ID field, and a Product Version field.

Silicon Labs Vendor ID value (0x10C4) is used assigned by USB Implementer’s Forum (0x02).

Vendor ID Source0x02
Vendor ID0x10C4
Product ID0x0001
Product Version0x0001

This service is defined in the Device Information Service Specification.

Human Interface Device Service

The HID Service exposes characteristics required for a HID Device to transfer HID report descriptors and reports to an HID Host. This also exposes the characteristics for an HID Host to write to a Device. The HID Service needs to be advertised.

HID Information Characteristic: The HID Information characteristic value contains the bcdHID and bcountryCode fields as defined by the USB HID specification.

bcdHID0x0111 (HID Class Specification release number 1.11)
bcountryCode0x0002 (not localized, NormallyConnectable)

Protocol Mode Characteristic: The Protocol Mode characteristic is used to expose the current protocol mode of the HID Service with which it is associated. There are Report and Boot modes.

In this case Report Protocol is used so its value is 0x01.

Report Map Characteristic: All data transferred must be formatted as reports whose structure is defined in this characteristic. The Report Map characteristic is used to define formatting information for Input Report, Output Report, and Feature Report data transferred between a HID Device and HID Host. It is a list of items each containing an item type and its value that provides information on how data can be used and other information regarding physical aspects of the device. The length and content of a Report Map vary depending on the number of data fields required for the device’s report or reports.

This application's Report Map is based on the example given in Device Class Definition for Human Interface Devices (HID) (Appendix C: Keyboard Implementation). It contains the basic 8 byte long keyboard report which will be described in details later.

0x05, 0x01Usage Page (Generic Desktop)
0x09, 0x06Usage (Keyboard)
0xa1, 0x01Collection (Application)
0x05, 0x07Usage Page (Keyboard)
0x19, 0xe0Usage Minimum (Keyboard LeftControl)
0x29, 0xe7Usage Maximum (Keyboard Right GUI)
0x15, 0x00Logical Minimum (0)
0x25, 0x01Logical Maximum (1)
0x75, 0x01Report Size (1)
0x95, 0x08Report Count (8)
0x81, 0x02Input (Data, Variable, Absolute) Modifier byte
0x95, 0x01Report Count (1)
0x75, 0x08Report Size (8)
0x81, 0x01Input (Constant) Reserved byte
0x95, 0x06Report Count (6)
0x75, 0x08Report Size (8)
0x15, 0x00Logical Minimum (0)
0x25, 0x65Logical Maximum (101)
0x05, 0x07Usage Page (Key Codes)
0x05, 0x01Usage Minimum (Reserved (no event indicated))
0x05, 0x01Usage Maximum (Keyboard Application)
0x05, 0x01Input (Data,Array) Key arrays (6 bytes)
0xc0End Collection

Detailed description of the item types and the structure of this descriptor can be found in section 6.2.2 Report Descriptor of Device Class Definition for Human Interface Devices (HID)

Report Characteristic: The Report characteristic is used to exchange data between a HID Device and a HID Host. Based on the Report Map, the length of a report in this application is 8 bytes (1 reserved, 1 modifier, 6 key code bytes). Report Reference descriptor contains the type and the ID of a report.

In this example, an Input Report is used so the value is 0x0001.

A Client Characteristic Configuration descriptor will be included in each Report characteristic definition where the data contained in the Report characteristic value refers to an Input Report.

Keyboard Application

This application has the basic functionality of a generic keyboard which sends "press key" and "release key" information to the host with input reports.

A usual keyboard report structure is used which contains a reserved byte, a modifier byte and 6 key code bytes (simultaneous keystrokes). In this example, one Report characteristic sends reports using notifications triggered by button presses. The used keyboard report format can be seen in the following figure.


There are two buttons on a WSTK. The functionalities of the buttons are presented in the following table.

PB0Sends a character (and jumps to the next letter of the ABC)
PB1Caps lock modifier

KBA_BT_1010: Push buttons and interrupts in a Bluetooth project demonstrates how to use the WSTK's push buttons PB0 and PB1 to trigger and detect interrupts. In this application, a button press/release event generates an external interrupt in the MCU. Then, in the interrupt callback function an evt_system_external_signal event is pushed to the Bluetooth event queue. The report formatting takes place in the main loop and characters are associated to their keycode which are defined in the HID Usage Tables. Then, the application sends the structured report via notification to the host using the gatt_server_send_characteristic_notification command.

An HID Device should include HID Service in the Service UUIDs AD type field of the advertising data. Also, an HID Device should include its Appearance in its Advertising Data. This device is discoverable as a keyboard. By using GATT Configurator, this example uses advertising packets that are automatically filled by the stack.

As a simple basis for further development, this example is not energy optimized. Also, use buffers in accordance to resources and application requirements.


HID Devices must bond and use LE Security Mode 1, Security Level 2 or 3, both of which require an encrypted link. In this example, the used security is Level 2: Unauthenticated pairing with encryption.

For iOS compatibility Report Map Characteristic and Report Reference Descriptor need to have encrypted read attribute permission, which means reading the characteristic value requires an encrypted link.

Project Setup

  1. Create a new SoC-Empty project for your device.

  2. Import the attached gatt.xml file.

  3. Press Save and then Generate in the GATT Configurator.

  4. Copy the attached app.c file into your project (overwriting the existing one).

  5. Copy the src directory from ..\SimplicityStudio\v4\developer\sdks\gecko_sdk_suite\_(version)_\platform\emdrv\gpiointerrupt to your project's ..\platform\emdrv\gpiointerrupt directory.
  6. Build and flash the project to your device.


This section gives a brief description of the general usage.

On the host device, open Bluetooth settings and find the device which is called "Silabs KB". Host device may ask the user to accept pairing, which is necessary for keyboard operation. After the device is connected and paired successfully, press PB0 to send a character. To activate the Caps lock modifier keep PB0 pressed simultaneously. Open a program on the host device where keystrokes can appear.

This example was tested on Android 9, Windows 10 and iOS 13.