Nordic Bluetooth Low Energy-powered smart jewelry sends emergency GPS location alerts to user’s designated safety contacts

Low-latency link between personal safety device and smartphone app allows the wearer to contact ‘guardians’ via a single button press in emergency situations

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Kwema, a Massachusetts, U.S.-based technology start-up, has employed Nordic’s Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) nRF52832 System-on-Chip (SoC) to add wireless connectivity to two newly-launched jewelry collections. ‘Eve’ and ‘Pacific Ocean’ double as smart personal safety devices in emergency situations or when the user perceives a potential threat.

The nRF52832 SoC’s Bluetooth Low Energy wireless connectivity links the jewelry with Kwema’s companion app on the user’s Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) iOS or Android smartphone. By pressing and holding a button on the device for three seconds, wearers can alert an unlimited number of pre-selected smartphone safety contacts, such as family and friends, of their precise GPS location in an emergency.

When Internet connectivity is not available the app sends a text message via the cellular network ensuring ‘guardians’ still promptly recieve the emergency notification and GPS location. In addition, users can employ an optional feature on the app that locates and immediately alerts other members of the Kwema ‘community’ who are within 500 meters.

Remaining dormant for extended periods and supported by the Nordic SoC’s ultra low power consumption—a result of key SoC features such as the 2.4GHz radio’s 5.5mA peak RX/TX currents, microamp average current and a fully-automatic power management system—Eve and Pacific Ocean both provide CR1220 coin cell battery life of up to one year and beyond.

Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth LE SoC, a member of Nordic’s sixth generation of ultra low power (ULP) wireless connectivity solutions, combines an 64MHz, 32-bit ARM® Cortex® M4F processor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT™, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF software) featuring -96dB RX sensitivity, with 512kB Flash memory and 64kB RAM. When launched, the SoC was the world’s highest performance single-chip Bluetooth LE solution.

The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certifed RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S132 SoftDevice supports Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, supports up to twenty connections, and enables concurrent role operation.

“Long battery life is an important feature of our product. We didn’t want our users worrying about constantly charging another device – even more so a device that could save their lives. The Nordic SoC helped us achieve this requirement,” says Carmina Santamaria, Kwema CEO.

“Another important reason for choosing Nordic’s solution was because the development tools allowed us to focus on our application code while having confidence that the SoftDevice would look after the Bluetooth LE protocol.

“The tools, and the engineering team’s familiarity with Nordic SoC-based Bluetooth LE modules, allowed us to go from the prototyping phase to market much faster,” says Santamaria. “And we couldn’t have been happier with the responsiveness and willingness of Nordic technical support to help us get our designs ready for prototyping and manufacturing.”

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Precision Embedded GNSS Antennas for IoT – By Chris Anderson

Courtesy of Taoglas
Precision embedded GNSS antennas for IoT-Chris Anderson

Applications for GNSS in IoT

There are many applications for precision embedded GNSS antennas for IoT. Obvious uses would include mobile applications such fleet tracking and pay as you go insurance while other applications may not seem as obvious. For instance, using GPS to uniquely identify a specific trash compactor, smart garbage can or even street light. In cases where an IoT device may move but doesn’t move often, adding movement sensors can let you shut-off that receiver to save power once you have acquired a fix on the signal.

GNSS also has other uses besides location such as having an automatic means for setting system time. This can dramatically improve the performance of remote sensor systems by ensuring your time and date stamp are always correct and your device is reporting in when it’s supposed to. In addition, this combination of location and time can give you the timezone setting as well. GNSS reports altitude as well as location and sometimes that altitude information can be combined with other sensor data like barometric pressure for automatic deployment of weather or other sensing systems.

Another less obvious way to make use of GNSS is to deploy either multiple antennas switched into a single GNSS receiver or multiple receivers and antennas to measure the orientation of your system. For example, placing a GNSS antenna on each wingtip of a fixed-wing drone and at the front and back ends of a school bus can let you directly determine the orientation of the vehicle in real time with no magnetic errors or other issues associated with using a digital compass. The further apart the antennas, the more precise the orientation calculation can be. The receivers can be adjacent to each other if required but will not give the same precise results. The feedback can be close to instantaneous as modern GNSS receivers are capable of refreshing at up to ten times a second.

“With autonomous vehicles and other high volume applications creating a mass market need for high precision embedded GNSS antennas and receivers, expect to see dual frequency receivers available to the IoT market by 2019.”

Since GNSS receiver accuracy is mostly limited by variations in ionospheric propagation delays, which for any two receivers near (within a few km) each other, the relative accuracy of the two receivers can be very good. This high relative accuracy can be exploited in specific applications such as determining orientation as mentioned above, precision agriculture, lawn mower robots, invisible fence systems or any other application where relative location can provide sufficient information for use-case.

Why Use Multiband GNSS?

This high precision is achieved by removing the that ionospheric error. In a two receiver system, one receiver is referenced to a physical location, for instance, the corner of a yard for an invisible fence system, and the difference in locations is computed and used for the application rather than the absolute position. The absolute position could vary by several meters but the differential measurement can be accurate to a few centimeters. Any means of removing that ionospheric error will accomplish a similar improvement in accuracy and this is why GNSS systems always use two different frequencies. The satellites send the same information on two different frequencies. The delay through the ionosphere varies in a known way with frequency so by comparing the delay through the ionosphere for the signal on each frequency, one can calculate the ionospheric delay and correct it out resulting in a single (albeit dual frequency or “band”) receiver with centimeter-level accuracy.

With autonomous vehicles and other high volume applications creating a mass market need for high precision embedded GNSS antennas and receivers, expect to see dual frequency receivers available to the IoT market by 2019. Also, as joint CEO, Dermot O’Shea wrote in this article, Centimeter-level positioning will drive the next generation of location-based apps.  At Taoglas, we have seen the need for low cost and high precision for a long time which is why we have numerous multi-band GNSS antenna products available already.  It is due to this foresight that many of the companies developing multi-band receivers are using our antennas already to test their products.

GNSS still won’t work indoors, but outside it will now be much more accurate.

For more information, please contact our Customer Services Team. We can also test your antenna and customize it for your specific project requirements.

Designing an IoT Project?

Sign up for a replay of this webinar by our CTO,

Chris Anderson

IoT Antenna Design Key Considerations Webinar image for Carol

 

Nordic Thingy:52 IoT Sensor Kit wins top prize in Development Kit category of global ‘Annual Creativity in Electronics’ awards program

Courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor

Nordic’s single-board Bluetooth 5/Bluetooth Low Energy sensor kit recognized by industry-leading ACE Awards with win in highly-competitive category

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that its Nordic Thingy:52 IoT Sensor Kit has been named winner of the highly-competitive “Development Kit” category by the judges of the Annual Creativity in Electronics (ACE) Awards. The ACE Awards—held in Silicon Valley, CA, in conjunction with Embedded Systems Conference—are a renowned awards program which showcases the industry’s most innovative electronics products.

Nordic Thingy:52 is a development tool targeted at IoT wireless sensor projects and based on Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) and S132 SoftDevice (RF software protocol). The sensor kit enables an app developer with no firmware coding expertise or high-level development tools to quickly design and demonstrate Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and associated mobile device and Internet apps.

Nordic Thingy:52 was shortlisted in the Development Kit category of the ACE Awards alongside three other major semiconductor vendors from the U.S. and Japan, but was adjudged by a panel of 15 industry experts as the winner against criteria including timeliness and suitability for target market, breakthrough technology, and community interest.

The ACE Awards are organized by UBM plc, a global business-to-business events organiser headquartered in London and are held in collaboration with leading U.S. electronics design journals EE Times and EDN. The awards present the “best of the best” in today’s electronics industry, including the hottest new products, start-up companies, design teams, executives, and more. The awards also celebrate the promise of new talent and innovation, and pay tribute to the lifetime achievement of a top industry veteran whose contributions have had a demonstrable impact on technological, business, and cultural advancements in the world.

“We are honored to recognize some of the brightest minds in the electronics industry for their impeccable achievements at the 2017 ACE Awards,” says Nina Brown, Vice President of Events, UBM. “This is an industry that is continually on the cutting-edge of innovation and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to fully identify the impact that they are having on the world.”

“Nordic Thingy:52 is the ideal development tool for app developers to test ideas and explore the potential of connected things using all the onboard features and sensors — truly an IoT device,” says Geir Langeland, Director of Sales and Marketing, Nordic Semiconductor. “App developers can start working with Nordic Thingy:52 straight out of the box without the need for any specialist expertise, and we are delighted to receive this award so highly prized by the global electronics design community.”

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Qorvo TGA4548-SM

Courtesy of everything RF

The TGA4548-SM from Qorvo is a high frequency, high power MMIC amplifier developed on Qorvo’s production 0.15um GaN on SiC process (QGaN15). The amplifier operates from 17 to 20 GHz with an output power of 10 watts and a gain of 22 dB with a PAE of 30%. The TGA4548-SM also has an integrated power detector to support system diagnostics and other needs.

The amplifier is available in a small 5×5.5 mm surface mount package, matched to 50? and has integrated DC blocking capacitors on both RF ports allowing for simple system integration. It is ideal for satellite communication as well as point to point data links.

 Product Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Qorvo
  • Description: 17 to 20 GHz, 10 W GaN Power Amplifier
  • Type: Power Amplifier
  • Configuration: IC/MMIC/SMT
  • Application: Radio, Point-to-Point
  • Industry Application: SATCOM, Wireless Infrastructure, Broadcast
  • Frequency: 17 to 20 GHz
  • Small Signal Gain: 27 dB
  • Saturated Power: 10 W
  • Input Power: 26 dBm
  • Input Power: 0.4 W
  • PAE: 30 %
  • Impedance: 50 Ohms
  • Pulsed/CW: CW
  • Sub-Category: GaN Amplifier
  • Input Return Loss: 17 dB
  • Output Return Loss: 10 dB
  • Supply Voltage: 28 V
  • Current Consumption: 300 mA
  • Transistor Technology: HEMT
  • Technology: GaN
  • Package Type: Surface Mount
  • Dimensions: 5.0 x 5.5 x 1.7
  • Operating Temperature: -40 to 85 Degree C
  • Storage Temperature: -55 to 150 Degree C
  • RoHS: Yes

Super-E technology by u-blox – low power & high performance for wearables

Courtesy of u-blox

Super‑E, developed by u-blox, is short for Super‑Efficient: Super-E is an intelligent power mode that reduces overall power consumption without impacting positioning performance. It uses only the minimal resources required for tracking and maintaining an accurate position, as opposed to the full‑power operation, which always tries to maximize positioning performance. https://www.u-blox.com/en/super-e-technology

Nordic Semiconductor begins lead customer sampling of its nRF91 Series LTE-M/NB-IoT low power cellular IoT solution

Courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor

Nordic Semiconductor ASA (NOD) today announced that it has started lead customer sampling of its nRF91 Series LTE-M/ NB-IoT low power cellular IoT solution.

As part of the lead customer-sampling program, Nordic has achieved its first approval for operation in live network of a leading cellular operator. Certification testing with infrastructure vendors and operators is also progressing well and according to plan. Nordic remains on track for general sampling of a fully-certified solution by mid-2018.

“This is a significant and important milestone for us,” says Svein-Egil Nielsen, CTO with Nordic Semiconductor. “We are very happy to be able to share our nRF91 Series low power cellular IoT solution with lead customers to enable them to start working on their own market-leading cellular IoT applications. “For everyone involved in the development of this groundbreaking technology at Nordic Semiconductor this is a proud moment. We are all very excited about the solution we bring to the market, and we believe that our customers will share this excitement with us.

More information will be provided at a media and investor briefing on Monday 22 January 2018. The event will be held at Nordic Semiconductor’s Oslo offices at 5.00pm (CET). A live webcast of the event will also be made available, as too will a more detailed agenda nearer the time.

Please register your attendance at: events@nordicsemi.no

For further information, please contact:

Thomas Embla Bonnerud, Strategy and IR Director

Email: Thomas.embla.bonnerud@nordicsemi.no

Phone: +47 951 00 257

Another technology sunset? The 3G sunset may be coming sooner than you think

Courtesy of Taoglas

Today, device manufacturers developing IoT solutions face the choice of designing upon a variety of wireless technologies. However, it appears, just after the recent 2G sunset, that the 3G sunset in the US may not be too far behind.

Carriers have differed in their approach to the transition from 3G to various flavors of LTE, but this year AT&T and Verizon have been leading the charge with definitive moves to force module and device manufacturers to also make the switch to LTE. As of June 2017, new 3G devices have not been permitted to enter the AT&T certification lab.

This means that device manufacturers developing new devices for many American carriers are already being pushed to uniquely support frequencies for LTE operation.

For device manufacturers with existing devices, the impacts of these moves are less immediate but still very relevant. Verizon has announced that it will cease to support 3G devices on its network by the end of 2019, roughly two years away. Additionally, earlier this year T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray expressed his desire to sunset T-Mobile’s 3G network in 2019 as well. One could infer, although unconfirmed, that AT&T may not be too far behind the actions of those carriers.

Needless to say, the time to begin converting to LTE is now.

Fortunately, Taoglas has all the tools to help solution providers make the switch, whether they are developing new products or converting existing products from sunsetting technologies. Offering a full range of cellular antennas that support the spectrum of LTE frequencies, along with world-class sales and engineering teams,Taoglas will ensure that each partner has all of the tools and expertise needed to maintain optimal connectivity.

API Inmet PPT975-200LP

The PPT975-200LP from API Inmet is a low PIM, flanged termination that operates from DC to 4 GHz. It can handle up to 200 W of power, has a resistive tolerance of 5% and a VSWR of under 1.25:1. This termination has been designed to dissipate power in RF circuits when mounted to an appropriate heat sink. It has a PIM level of -120 dBc with two 43 dBm tones. This thin film termination has been developed on an aluminium nitride substrate, with an Alumina Ceramic cover and Nickel plated copper flanges.

Product Specifications

  • Manufacturer
    API Technologies – Inmet
  • Description
    200 W Flanged Low PIM Termination from DC to 4 GHz
  • Type
  • Frequency
    DC to 4 GHz
  • Power
    200 W
  • Impedance
    50 Ohms
  • VSWR
    1.25:1
  • PIM
    -120 dBc
  • Rohs
    Yes

Courtesy of www.everythingrf.com

 

Qorvo Spatium® Revolutionizes Power Amplifiers

Courtesy of Qorvo

Qorvo Spatium (http://www.qorvo.com/products/spatium) erases the need of vacuum tube amplifiers with its solid state amplifier solution. Spatium has proven durability and reliability in rugged environments with best-in-class MTTR. This technology improves the range and dependability of transmitters in military aircraft, combat vehicles and naval vessels (http://www.qorvo.com/applications/def…).

Super-E technology

Courtesy of u-blox

Manufacturers of portable applications, such as smart wearable watches or trackers, have struggled to find the best balance between size and positioning performance in their products. The resulting products are not small enough and not accurate enough, which has led to a lower‑than‑expected adoption rate.


In response to this need, u‑blox developed the Super‑E positioning technology. Super‑E, short for Super‑Efficient, is an intelligent power mode that reduces overall power consumption without impacting positioning performance. It uses only the minimal resources required for tracking and maintaining an accurate position, as opposed to the full‑power operation, which always tries to maximize positioning performance.

Only when the signals are very weak or very few satellites are visible, is the full‑power scheme activated to maintain positioning performance.

In a real‑life sport watch scenario, Super‑E achieved three times the power saving, while maintaining position and speed accuracy comparable to the traditional u‑blox 1 Hz full power mode.

Super‑E mode is incorporated in a System in Package (SiP) solution that only occupies 20 mm2 and features a complete GNSS system, including TCXO, LNA, SAW filter and filtering elements for easy design‑in into any highly integrated product. Also available in a chip, the Super‑E mode combines low power consumption with high positioning accuracy in a design footprint of less than 30 mm2 (including all necessary components for a portable design).
Highlights:

 

Targeted applications

Sports  accessories, such as sport and smart watches:
These customers are in need of GNSS reception but with reduced power consumption.
Their solutions integrate many features (e.g. heart rate) within the same low power budget
while using small batteries to make the product smaller.
This is crucial to reach a broader market and audiences that prefer slimmer designs.

People and animal trackers:
When a device goes beyond the geofence, a location update every few minutes is not enough to accurately locate the tracker.
The operator must then keep the system on, which rapidly depletes the battery.
For emergency situations, it is important to have the longest battery life.

Fitness trackers:
With high penetration in the mass market in recent years, these devices are simple,
low cost and slim.
Fitness trackers need GNSS to accurately track workouts in real‑time.
However, they must stay at the same price point and still look slim to remain attractive.

Consumer tag trackers:
Consumer Bluetooth low energy tag devices use a function called “crowd finding GNSS” to locate
moving targets such as dogs and bikes.
This is highly inefficient as it requires other smartphone owners to have the required application
installed on their phone to find the lost asset when passing by. Adding GNSS (+connectivity)
as an “emergency” option for when the device is lost would give peace of mind to its owner.
It is very important that the device remains small (with a small battery) for its adoption and implementation in objects (e.g. keys, wallet, and bike).

Industrial trackers like vehicles:
More and more trackers work with a battery and have a limited power budget for GNSS,
as opposed to traditional vehicle tracking boxes that are connected to the vehicle battery.

Products

UBX-M8230-CT
Super low power u-blox M8 GNSS chip
ZOE-M8Q
Ultra small, super low power u-blox M8 GNSS SiP