Smartwatches – the all‑in‑one wearable

Courtesy of u-blox

From the Apple Watch, to the Samsung Gear and Huawei 2, more and more smartwatches are popping up every day on people’s wrists. What started as a luxurious fashion accessory is becoming increasingly respected as a useful wearable.

Key to the smartwatches’ newfound appeal has been the increasing capability of today’s best devices. By incorporating onboard Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) positioning, the best smartwatches now achieve smartphone independence during workouts. And with recent improvements to the GNSS receiver’s energy efficiency, they can tuck the technology into a slim design, making them the ultimate all‑in‑one wearable.

Smartphone independence

The desire for smartwatches grew from the realization that having to take out and check our smartphones for every text message, notification, or navigational step was seriously annoying. By having a watch that could not only tell the time, but link us to our smartphones, we could stay in touch just by checking our wrist.

Ironically, as our phones have grown bigger, more powerful, and more integral to our daily lives, they’ve also become more cumbersome to carry around. While runners in 2017 may have been content to strap an iPhone 4 on their arm, doing the same with an iPhone 7 Plus would be quite a feat.

For smartwatches that’s meant that the obvious next step has been achieving smartphone independence. Having native apps and functionality like GNSS positioning that run right on the watch without requiring smartphone connectivity is useful for runners, hikers, and other athletes who don’t fancy carrying their phablets with them on their journey.

All‑in‑one device

The same demographic that is interested in the latest smartwatch is often also interested in fitness tracking, but no one wants to have to buy and wear two devices at the same time. The natural next step for smartwatches is to evolve into all‑in‑one devices that combine traditional smartwatch functionality with full‑featured fitness tracking.

The Apple Watch Series 2 and the new Fitbit Ionic exemplify this new type of smartwatch. Besides iPhone notifications, turn‑by‑turn navigation, and onboard music storage, they also feature great fitness tracking capabilities courtesy of onboard GPS.

Low‑power GNSS – the key to tomorrow’s smartwatch

With smartphone independence in the bag, the next frontiers in smartwatch design are likely to involve size and, consequently, energy. Just as demand for ever more smartwatch functionalities is increasing energy requirements, demand for ever slimmer designs – which ultimately means smaller batteries – are forcing smartwatch manufacturers to up the ante in terms of energy efficiency.

The bulk of a smartwatch’s energy supply powers its GNSS receiver. The recently released u‑blox ZOE‑M8B GNSS System‑in‑Package (SiP), uses the proprietary Super‑E technology to reduce the power expended on positioning by two thirds compared to traditional GNSS receivers. On top of that, it is tiny. Measuring just 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.0 mm, it offers manufacturers a complete positioning unit that can easily be designed into any highly integrated device.

By incorporating the low‑power consumption u‑blox ZOE‑M8B module, the next generation of smartwatches will be able to achieve smartphone independence with a slim design, fulfilling the promise of being the ultimate all‑in‑one wearable.

For more blog posts on wearables, see our posts on a great solution for GPS sports watchesand a super‑efficient GPS module could become a game changer for fitness trackers.

You can also visit our microsite dedicated to Wearables.

Florian Bousquet
Market Development Manager, Product Center Positioning, u-blox

Qorvo® Expands Wireless Infrastructure Portfolio to Support All 5G Frequency Bands

Courtesy of Qorvo

UNIQUE PRODUCTS ADDRESS THE NEW 600 MHZ/BAND 71 SPECTRUM

GREENSBORO, NC – October 17, 2017 – Qorvo® (Nasdaq:QRVO), a leading provider of innovative RF solutions that connect the world, today introduced a line of small-signal products that support the 600 MHz/Band 71 spectrum recently auctioned in the U.S. This expansion of the company’s infrastructure portfolio makes Qorvo the only supplier to address all frequency bands for 5G communications, from sub-6 GHz through 39 GHz.

The new products are linear driver amplifiers that support operation down to 600 MHz – the QPA9805TQP7M9101TQP7M9102TQP7M9103 and TQP7M9105. They complement Qorvo’s already broad range of wireless infrastructure solutions, from linear driver amplifiers and variable gain amplifiers to low noise amplifiers, gain blocks, filters, attenuators, switches and integrated front-end modules.

Roger Hall, general manager of Qorvo High Performance Solutions, said, “Only Qorvo supports the full 5G spectrum – including the 600 MHz spectrum recently auctioned in the U.S. Our complete, off-the-shelf portfolio can shorten customers’ time to market to meet consumers’ insatiable demand for more bandwidth and higher data speeds.”

The number of subscriptions for 5G technology is projected to accelerate over the next several years, reaching 89 million by 2022.1

By operating over broad frequency ranges or having pin-compatible product families, Qorvo’s products enable customers to save costs by eliminating the need to redesign PCBs or system lineups. The table below shows a partial list of Qorvo products targeted for wireless infrastructure, and the frequency bands they support.

Frequency Band (GHz)
Product Type Qorvo Part Number 0.6 0.9 2.1 2.6 3.5 4.5 28 39
LNA TQL9063 x x x x x
LNA TQL9092 x x x x x
LNA TQP3M9036 x x
LNA TQP3M9037 x x x x x x
LNA QPL9503 x x x x x x
LNA QPL9095 x x
LNA QPL9096 x x
LNA QPA2628 x
LNA / SW / PA FEM QPF4005 x
Driver Amp QPA9805 x x
Driver Amp SZA3044Z x
Driver Amp SZA5044Z x
Driver Amp TQP7M9101 x x x x x x
Driver Amp TQP7M9102 x x x x x
Driver Amp TQP7M9103 x x x x x
Driver Amp TQP7M9105 x x
Driver Amp TGA4030-SM x
Driver Amp TGA2594-HM x
DVGA RFDA0026 x x
DVGA RFDA3016 x
DVGA TQM879026 x x x x x x
DVGA TQM879028 x x x x x
DVGA TQM879008 x x

About Qorvo

Qorvo (NASDAQ:QRVO) makes a better world possible by providing innovative RF solutions at the center of connectivity. We combine product and technology leadership, systems-level expertise and global manufacturing scale to quickly solve our customers’ most complex technical challenges. Qorvo serves diverse high-growth segments of large global markets, including advanced wireless devices, wired and wireless networks and defense radar and communications. We also leverage our unique competitive strengths to advance 5G networks, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and other emerging applications that expand the global framework interconnecting people, places and things. Visit www.qorvo.com to learn how Qorvo connects the world.

Qorvo is a registered trademark of Qorvo, Inc. in the U.S. and in other countries.

1 “5G Technology Market and Its Impact on Communication and IoT Market,” August 2016, MarketsandMarkets™

Investor Relations Contact:
Doug DeLieto
VP, Investor Relations
+1-336-678-7088
Media Contact:
Katie Caballero
Marketing Communications Manager
Qorvo Infrastructure and Defense Products
+1 972-994-8546
katie.caballero@qorvo.com

This press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about our plans, objectives, representations and contentions and are not historical facts and typically are identified by use of terms such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue” and similar words, although some forward-looking statements are expressed differently. You should be aware that the forward-looking statements included herein represent management’s current judgment and expectations, but our actual results, events and performance could differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements. We do not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements or publicly announce the results of any revisions to these forward-looking statements, other than as is required under the federal securities laws. Qorvo’s business is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including variability in operating results, the inability of certain of our customers or suppliers to access their traditional sources of credit, our industry’s rapidly changing technology, our dependence on a few large customers for a substantial portion of our revenue, a loss of revenue if contracts with the U.S. government or defense and aerospace contractors are canceled or delayed, our ability to implement innovative technologies, our ability to bring new products to market and achieve design wins, the efficient and successful operation of our wafer fabrication facilities, assembly facilities and test and tape and reel facilities, our ability to adjust production capacity in a timely fashion in response to changes in demand for our products, variability in manufacturing yields, industry overcapacity and current macroeconomic conditions, inaccurate product forecasts and corresponding inventory and manufacturing costs, dependence on third parties and our ability to manage platform providers and customer relationships, our dependence on international sales and operations, our ability to attract and retain skilled personnel and develop leaders, the possibility that future acquisitions may dilute our shareholders’ ownership and cause us to incur debt and assume contingent liabilities, fluctuations in the price of our common stock, additional claims of infringement on our intellectual property portfolio, lawsuits and claims relating to our products, security breaches and other similar disruptions compromising our information and exposing us to liability, and the impact of stringent environmental regulations. These and other risks and uncertainties, which are described in more detail in Qorvo’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and in other reports and statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results and developments to be materially different from those expressed or implied by any of these forward-looking statements.

BACK MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF TOMORROW’S VEHICLES

Courtesy of u-blox

The automotive and transport market covers a vast amount of applications. The u-blox product portfolio is designed and developed for such applications, saving both time and money for improved efficacy and operation.

Autonomous driving
A car without a driver? What not long ago sounded like a fairytale is already in test mode with experiments by Volvo and Google’s campus cars to name a couple.
The autonomous vehicle raises the bar for information availability in the vehicle in order to ensure a safe ride. Ultra-precise and reliable vehicle position as well as information on the behavior and position of surrounding vehicles becomes crucial. All this is only possible with the seamless integration of sensors such as cameras, highly reliable navigation components, secure and stable wireless LTE communication channels, as well as communication to other vehicles and the roadway infrastructure. Technologies including high precision GNSS, Cat 9 LTE, and 802.11p are already today supporting this vision.

V2X
At a basic level of V2X, vehicles can communicate critical information between vehicles (vehicle to vehicle / V2V) and infrastructure (vehicle to infrastructure / V2I) to avoid accidents at intersections or send location information for emergency call services. However, the excitement is around V2X’s potential to usher in a new era of cognitive automobiles that are not only aware of their own status, but are also aware of the status of other vehicles, the environment, weather and road conditions, traffic, and myriad other parameters that might affect driver safety and travel efficiency. This automotive cognition happens when sensing, communication, and decisions take place at a machine-to-machine (M2M) level and enhances the overall driver experience as well as road safety.

ADAS
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) deployed today include radar sensors and cameras. These ADAS methods enable vehicles to sense obstacles but only in certain conditions, within a limited angle and range. As V2X arrives, 360 degree awareness will be enabled offering exact vehicle data including position, speed, and direction. ADAS will bring high quality maps fused with sensors (cameras, RADAR, LiDAR, etc.) as well as GNSS with 3D dead reckoning. V2X will thereby complement conventional ADAS technologies, resulting in a new era in road safety and traffic efficiency. ADAS is brought forth by a careful combination of technologies that are required for fully automated and autonomous driving – including reliability and protection from cybersecurity threats.

Navigation & traffic services
Improved and specific traffic services, such as real-time traffic information or location based services (LBS) on your route, will make driving safer and more efficient. The technologies that these services are built on are GNSS and cellular communication, technologies that u-blox has a long track record with in automotive OEMs and Tier1s. This focus is also reflected in the fact that u-blox designs components specifically for the automotive industry.

eCall / ERA-GLONASS
GPS-based eCall (Europe) and GLONASS-based ERA GLONASS (Russia) are emergency call service initiatives that combine mobile communications and satellite positioning to provide rapid assistance to motorists in the event of a collision. The systems monitor in vehicle sensors for such events as airbag deployment to automatically transmit location details and summon assistance via emergency cellular service. In band modem (e.g. GSM, UMTS) capability – that is, the ability to transmit data over the voice channel – is a key requirement for both systems.

Infotainment
From a purely technological point of view, the addition of Internet connectivity to automobiles for infotainment purposes is a natural and evolutionary reaction to the movement of mobile devices from the home to the car. Applications range from streaming music and video, in-vehicle Internet access, and receiving alerts of traffic and weather conditions.

Infotainment systems can deliver a rich user experience, and when combined with navigation systems they offer the highest level of performance in terms of design, quality, and user friendliness. A high-speed cellular module can be embedded directly in the center-stack infotainment system as an intelligent communications hub for all services. This reduces the need for cabling and safety implementations, which can be expensive because they need to ensure that critical services like eCall work after a crash. Hands-free voice and music streaming can be achieved via Bluetooth, while Wi-Fi can facilitate an in-vehicle access point, multimedia distribution, and rear-seat-entertainment, as well as display applications such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mirror Link.

Telematics
A telematics unit (TCU) gathers and transmits status information of the vehicle. GNSS receivers and wireless communication are the underlying technologies for successful telematics applications. They support a plethora of applications such as fleet and asset management, stolen vehicle recovery, usage-based insurance (UBI), power distribution, and public safety.

Connectivity and, in many cases, the intelligence of the telematics system, are placed in direct conjunction with the antennas (smart antenna / connected car node), avoiding expensive cable runs. Due to placement, a high speed data bus is needed to connect the system to high bandwidth data devices in the car. Often, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections enable data to and from consumer devices in the vehicle. These systems tend to be great for cost-effective smart modules, which “borrow” the processing capacity of a cellular module for the entire node, including for routing and telematics services.

While the TCU is primarily dedicated to telematics, it can also provide connectivity for infotainment systems and other services. For instance, cellular connectivity can enable features such as eCall, bCall, concierge services, remote control, and remote monitoring. Connectivity to the Internet can also be made via external Wi-Fi hotspots to access the cloud, media services, over-the-air (OTA) updates, or to off-load LTE. Additionally, V2V and V2X communications can be achieved via 802.11p, and remote key-less entry (RKE) can be done via Bluetooth low energy to the smartphone that acts as a key.

TCU ublox

Transportation
In the next few years, traffic will increase, the number of people requiring mobility will increase, and simply the way we will live and work will have an underlying impact on our need for mobility. Consequently using the next generation of wireless communication and location technologies will contribute to optimizing traffic flow, efficient use of resources, and also the improved usage of vehicles.

Fleet management
The gathering and transmission of on-board diagnostic (OBD-II) data, combined with sensors, precise positioning, and driver monitoring are also critical for fleet managers, who can now track truck and driver status to make sure the truck receives maintenance before breaking down. They can also check that the driver is alert and maintaining good driving habits. For fleet managers who are in a very competitive environment, it can make the difference between staying in business or not. Fuel savings, automatic tolls to save time, along with fewer breakdowns can add up quickly to reduce the overall business costs. It will also increase safety, as critical information can be transmitted in real-time and service can be prepared efficiently, thereby avoiding downtimes.

For fleet managers, it is crucial to have a stable data connection to communicate with the vehicle, combined with location information and short range communication options (for example, for diagnostics in the garage or to update relevant vehicle information via a gateway).

Logistics asset tracking
For full operational visibility and decision making through the logistics business value chain, it is crucial to be able to accurately track assets and vehicles. For instance, containers can be tracked globally with a combination of battery optimized cellular technologies (such as NB-IoT), Wi-Fi connected access points, and standard positioning technologies. This will allow logistic companies to track the driving behavior of each driver, optimize routes, and get technical information to maximize efficiency.

 

Logistics Asset Tracking ublox

Nordic-powered wearable uses arterial signal-analyzing algorithm to accurately measure and report indicators of suboptimal health

Courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor

‘SPO2 Wristband Solution’ from Veepoo employs Nordic’s nRF52832 SoC to wirelessly monitor users’ blood oxygen saturation values and linked sleep apnea syndrome

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that China-based, Veepoo, integrates Nordic’s award-winning Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) nRF52832 System-on-Chip (SoC) in its ‘SPO2 Wristband Solution’. The product enables OEMs without RF design expertise to rapidly develop health-based wearable solutions for the middle-aged to elderly, smokers, and other people with suboptimal health, particularly those with interstitial breathing, heart disease, or sleep apnea syndrome.

SPO2 Wristband Solution allows OEM develpers to design products that monitor arterial oxygen saturation and in turn estimate the oxygenation capacity of the lung along with the blood’s hemoglobin carrying capacity. Nordic’s nRF52832 SoC provides Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity between the wristband and a Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) iOS or Android smartphone.

From the smartphone, users can access important health updates via Veepoo’s companion app. For example, the app allows users to monitor the change in blood oxygen during nocturnal sleep and therefore to test for abnormal metabolism, hemodynamic disorder, or sleep apnea syndrome. If blood oxygen saturation decreases to a hazadous level, the wearable device will automatically trigger an alarm to warn the user and/or caregiver of the danger.

The Nordic SoC’s 64MHz, 32-bit ARM® Cortex® M4F processor provides ample computing capacity to power Veepoo’s unique algorithm which enables the SPO2 Wristband Solution to accurately measure blood oxygen saturation values from weak arterial signals at the wrist in addition to the strong signals from the fingers. Standard medical devices are limited to finger measurements only.

The device’s algorithm capitalises on the fact arterial blood absorption of light varies with arterial pulsation. In addition, oxygenated and deoxygenated arterial blood hemoglobin have different light absorption rates at different wavelengths. A photosensitive element embedded in the hardware detects changes in arterial pulsation and light absorbtion due to varying oxygenation levels and the software eliminates the effects of non-blood tissue then calculates actual blood oxygen levels.

The low power consumption characteristics of the Nordic SoC help prolong the service life of SPO2 Wristband Solution’s portable lithium battery, meaning it can charge and discharge approximately 7000 times while supporting 15-plus days of standby time―an important consideration for a health-based wearable.Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth LE SoC, a member of Nordic’s sixth generation of ultra low power (ULP) wireless connectivity solutions, combines the 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-certified RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth low energy applications. The S132 SoftDevice supports Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and Observer Bluetooth low energy roles, supports up to twenty connections, and enables concurrent role operation.

“We selected the nRF52832 SoC for its superior technical aspects,” says Jiuchao Li, CEO at Veepoo. “The powerful CPU computing capability meets our algorithm requirement and supports floating point operation, the RAM and Flash meet our specification requirements, and the low power characteristics ensure SPO2 Wristband Solution can be used for a longer period of time.

“Our SPO2 Wristband Solution benefits from the clean separation between Nordic’s SoftDevice and the application code, allowing our engineers to work directly on application software. The easy-to-use Software Development Kits [SDKs] also greatly reduce the development challenge,” says Jiuchao Li.

“Throughout the SPO2 project, Nordic application engineers have provided us with fast and helpful responses to our enquiries, which has contributed to a smooth R&D schedule.”

Picture Gallery

CellLocate – enhance GNSS positioning indoors

Courtesy of u-blox

Increased reliability and indoor positioning based on hybrid GPS and mobile network attributes

Although GPS is a widespread technology, GPS positioning is not always possible, particularly in shielded environments such as indoors, enclosed park houses, or when a GPS jamming signal is present. The situation can be improved by augmenting GPS receiver data with mobile network cell attributes to provide a level of redundancy that can benefit numerous applications.

Based on internally developed cellular transceiver modules, u‑blox has embedded the cellular positioning technology CellLocate® into a number of its 2G, 3G and 4G modules. The technology  uses the CellLocate® service to  provide the modem with a location estimate, based on its observations of the surrounding cellular base station signals, assisting the GNSS receiver and providing a fallback positioning solution.

This improves positioning data in several use cases:

GPS signals are blocked: a GPS receiver cannot determine a position when satellite signals are unavailable, such as within tunnels, buildings, or metallic containers. For fleet and supply chain management or tracking of people inside buildings, this condition can be unacceptable. In this case, a cell‑based positioning system using GSM cell information can provide an estimated position. This is attractive for vehicle or container tracking applications where an approximate location of valuable assets is preferable to no position fix at all. This system is functional within warehouses, rail stations, airports, and tunnels.

GPS signals are jammed: GPS jamming devices are easily obtained for less than a hundred dollars. These devices can neutralize GPS receivers, and are often employed during vehicle theft. A backup cell‑based system in this case acts as a secondary system, as GSM cell signals are available even when satellite signals are blocked by jamming. The GPS receiver can also add intelligence to the system as u‑blox GPS receivers can detect when a jamming signal is present, putting the system into an “attempted theft” condition.

Machine‑to‑Machine (M2M) applications: Many M2M applications require positioning capability within a bounded area such as within a city, along main vehicle or rail links, or within specific venues such as an exhibition, entertainment or healthcare facilities. Positioning reliability in these areas can be improved by using cellular signals as well as GPS to provide accurate positioning. Based on an extension of u‑blox’ AssistNow Online GPS assistance service, u‑blox’ CellLocate technology is used to match cellular positioning data coupled with previously successful GPS fixes.

This “learning” solution can be practical for M2M applications where units are repeatedly used in specific areas such as a taxi fleet in a city, or containers and palettes travelling between warehouses. In these cases a specific database of useful cell data is quickly generated and the service is able to reliably give the current position to the user.

The above scenarios exploit the combination of Cellular and GPS positioning data (Hybrid positioning) to deliver better results than GPS technology could accomplish alone:

  • Positioning performance can be improved and extended to areas where GPS satellite signals are 100% blocked, especially within buildings
  • Eliminate “no‑fix” scenarios by providing at least an approximate fix wherever cell phone coverage is available
  • Overcome GPS jamming scenarios to improve antitheft system performance

Download the CellLocate Product Summary.

u‑blox’s CellLocate cellular positioning technology is an embedded feature implemented in u‑blox SARA 2G and LISA/SARA 3G cellular modem families. Download the whitepaper: “Hybrid Positioning and CellLocate“.

Products

HSPA modules with 2G fallback
Dual and quad-band GSM/GPRS modules
LARA-R2
Size-optimized LTE Cat 1 modules in single and multi-mode configurations
Multi-mode LTE Cat 1 modules with 2G/3G fallback

Connected Cars Place New Demands on Vehicle Electronics Design

Courtesy of Taoglas 

Connected Cars Place New Demands on Vehicle Electronics Design

By Chris Anderson, CTO, Taoglas. Article featured in Wireless, Design & Development Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 5 

The connected car of the future will have more options than ever, expanding beyond basic infotainment and navigation systems to offer the latest in safety features, and (in the-nottoo-distant future) autonomous driving. The requirement for more sensors and antennas to deliver high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity is seemingly at odds with another requirement of auto manufacturers—fewer cables and connectors that cause noise and vibrations, while being complicated and expensive to install. In today’s connected cars, antennas and electronics are increasingly being forced in closer proximity. What does that mean for design engineers?

For a modern car, electronics represent a little more than 30 percent of the vehicle’s total costs, and that percentage is expected to rise.  The more electronics a vehicle deploys, the greater need for electrical power, system components, and need to interconnect those system components. Electronic connections (be it the power supply or control wiring harness), digital communications connections, or radio frequency (RF) interfaces add complexity, cost, and weight.

Automotive designers spend considerable effort to minimize these factors. Consumer expectations are such that even base model vehicles are now expected to have features like smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth, entertainment, and safety systems like the Event Data Recorder or European eCall. Hence, significant design efforts are required in this area every time for all models. Old cars dealt with the power and control needs of facets like power windows and seats, using very complicated discrete wiring systems. Their weight and cost kept these features in premium vehicles.

Bosch created the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus in the mid- 1980s to address these issues. Today, CAN allows for power and communications using simpler and cheaper connectors and wiring. Some new car features such as the entertainment center, cameras, and cellular/Internet connectivity, use variations of USB and Ethernet. However, none of these address the need to run radio signals around the car. The GNSS receiver, eCall cellular radio, SiriusXM receiver, new DSRC radio (for talking to other cars and roadside infrastructure), maintenance cellular radio, remote keyless entry radio, and tire pressure monitoring system receiver all need RF cabling, connectors, and antennas.

Strategies For Elegance

The first step in simplifying vehicle interconnects was the use of a multi-drop digital data bus instead of discrete wires.  The next major step has been to consolidate functions into clusters of electronics. This often includes radio communications devices like GPS or cellular radio systems. One trade-off is how antennas for the radios in question often need to be remotely mounted elsewhere in the car for an appropriate radiation pattern to communicate with the radio link’s other end. GNSS or SiriusXM obviously need a clear view of the sky to see satellites, while cellular antennas need a clear view of the horizon.

This is where physics starts to complicate matters. Running radio frequency signals around a car from a radio and antenna is normally accomplished with coaxial transmission line cables. The thinner and lighter those cables are, the cheaper and more flexible they become. Unfortunately, this also means sacrificing performance and introducing more signal loss, which is proportional to both frequency and length of the cable.

In the case of GNSS, this situation can be easily addressed using an active antenna. The GNSS antenna contains a receive filter and Low Noise Amplifier (LNA), which is powered by a DC voltage over the coax cable. This removes the coaxial cable losses and helps retain the best possible performance. While this is normal practice for GNSS and SiriusXM receive-only systems, the process is increasingly difficult to do with radio systems that are bi-directional and also transmit, such as cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

The filter and LNA added to a receive-only radio are duplications of parts already in the receiver.

In that context, they’re an added expense over what would be needed if the coax losses were low enough. For a radio that transmits, however, this sort of solution would require transmit and receive filters, a transmit power amplifier big enough for the signals in question, the receive LNA, a pair of RF switches, a power supply system, and dedicated transmit/receive control signal from the remote radio.

This, in turn, would require a coax cable between the radio, its active antenna, and also a control signal cable. Just as with GNSS, all this is already built into the cellular radio, so it’s a lot of extra expense and complication to mitigate coax losses. Therefore, it’s very rare to see an active antenna for a cellular system because of the added cost. The brute-force way of dealing with coax losses in cellular or other transmitting radios is often to use lower loss, higher-quality coax as the transmission line. There are trade-offs, however, in that the higher-performance coax is thicker, heavier, stiffer, and expensive.

Antennas Of The Future

The trend of co-locating the radios and their antennas will only continue, as the cost, weight, complexity, and RF performance benefits far outweigh the added design and development complexity. In some cases, however, as additional antennas are added, a certain minimum separation between antennas is required. This is likely to push most antennas into a single area of the car. It will also require that an antenna deployment area will take up more space. An example here would be the need to have four cellular antennas, GNSS, DSRC, SiriusXM, and two WiFi antennas all located in a single enclosure on the roof of a car. Car designers are not likely to accept the 400-mm diameter dome that would be the optimal size solution for this, so a lot of effort will go into understanding the complex interaction of co-locating all these antennas and the radios that use them. Some antenna companies have already been doing this sort of product for other markets. While it would be nice to get all the car antennas into a single package, some smaller number of antennas will still need to be located away from the main antenna cluster with coax; for example, AM/FM antennas, because of their size and the common need to have two of them for receive diversity. Another example would be cellular antennas that need to be physically separated to ensure maximum MIMO throughput performance. Even in these cases, it’s most likely that the radios in question would still get integrated into a TCU-type solution and the location of the antennas constrained to somewhere that keeps the coax runs short. Longer term, it would make sense to create a digital interface standard for the FM broadcast radio, GNSS, and other radios such that the radios could be integrated directly with their antenna. This would allow those radio and antenna units to be distributed around the car wherever the vehicle designer has a place to put them that lines up with the radio’s performance need while also minimizing the use of coax cable and RF interconnects. The connections would be limited to high-speed digital data and power, and the lower-cost wiring and connectors that involves. One trend that’s already in discussion is running power and communication over the same wires. Historically the power system in a vehicle was viewed as being so noisy that to make any attempt at communication over the same wires would be highly unreliable. Using new digital spread spectrum communication techniques, viable solutions have already been created that could one day allow the interconnection of vehicle systems with only two or even one wire(s).

Go Where the Antennas Are

As the number of radio systems in cars grow, a better overall solution to the coax issues is to simply locate the radios very close to their antennas. This has resulted in the radios moving into a combined electronics package. An example of one is called a Telematic Control Unit (TCU). The TCU is then physically located near the antennas, wherever they’re placed on the vehicle.

This has a number of effects:

  1. The longer runs of coax cables that used to go from the radios to the antennas are now effectively replaced with cheap digital communication wiring between the TCU and rest of the car systems.
  2. Active antennas are no longer needed because the transmission lines between radio and antenna are so short, their losses are negligible.
  3. The antennas all need to be in roughly the same area of the car, or the above benefits are lost.
  4. Co-locating radio antennas creates a greater possibility for interference between the radio systems that must be carefully designed around. When the antennas were farther apart, this issue could often be ignored.
  5. Co-locating the radio electronics near their antennas creates more opportunity for RF emissions from those electronics to interfere with radio reception performance. This requires additional design effort and testing.

This co-location of TCU electronics and antennas also creates a need for new RF interconnects. While using a small, short coax cable to connect the TCU radios and antennas is an obvious solution, all those connectors are potential long-term failure points. When there can be up to eight or 10 coax connections between a TCU and its antenna system, there is also potential for assembly mistakes and a non-trivial amount of assembly labor costs.

Most RF connector systems haven’t changed for decades. It’s uncommon having to connect an array of eight to 10 RF feeds between two electronic boards in a small physical space. As such, there haven’t been a lot of products to meet this need, especially in a low-cost, high-density, highvibration environment. Most of these interfaces are still proprietary custom solutions not commonly available off the shelf. Since both sides of such an RF connector interface are specific to the product to which they’re being deployed, there’s no driving need for an interconnecting standard. A generic solution for this application is a current point of research for connector and antenna companies so that future products can simply reuse a known good solution.

One of the most interesting areas of investigation is the use of a selective axis of conduction elastomer materials to create PCB board-to-board interconnects with what looks like a simple layer of rubber. There are still significant issues to be solved, such as insertion losses, isolation, and cross-talk, but the concept looks promising.

The state-of-the-art in cabling for automotive electronics focuses on minimizing the number and length of all cables in the vehicle. This has led to consolidation of the electronics into packages with similar physical needs in the car. The future of cabling in cars will continue to push towards higher-speed data buses and minimizing interconnects other than power and data. This all conspires to further complicate the design and test of the vehicle electronic systems. That additional complication highlights the need for experienced expert partners when it comes to specialties like radio electronics and antennas.

Read the Original Article on Wireless, Design & Development Magazine

u-blox provides concurrent GNSS technology to timing synchronization system

Courtesy of u‑blox

Accuracy, reliability and affordability make the LEA‑M8T the right choice.

Thalwil, Switzerland – October 10, 2017 – u‑blox (SIX:UBXN), a global leader in wireless and positioning modules and chips, announced that its LEA‑M8T concurrent GNSS timing module is now being used by V3Novus, a provider of a high quality electronic components and embedded system designs based in India, in its latest Precision Synchronization System with built‑in NTP Server.

Aimed at the Telecom, Railway and Military application space to provide traceable time stamps for data transported over packet networks, the Time Synchronization System also features a precision Rubidium oscillator to supplement the signal received by the u‑blox LEA‑M8T module. This gives operators greater confidence in the NTP (Network Time Protocol) server’s output under all conditions.

More digital traffic now crosses more carriers’ networks and passes through more manufacturers’ equipment to reach the end‑users. As a result, the demand for phase and time synchronization is evolving.

“As networks migrate from traditional TDM technology to packet switched networks, to accommodate higher amounts of data, V3Novus continues to innovate its time synchronization systems,” says Andrew Miles, Senior Principal Engineer, Product Center Positioning at u‑blox. “While standards groups introduce updates and propose new metrics to address packet‑based synchronization techniques, the latest offering from V3Novus successfully integrates these developments in time, frequency and phase generation, transfer and consumption.”

The telecommunications infrastructure relies on accurate time stamping for many applications, including VoIP switches/gateways, media servers, SNMP, SS7 and IP traffic monitoring systems, as well as IPTV STBs and gateways.

“We chose to partner with u‑blox for our latest precise Time Synchronization System because the LEA‑M8T module provides the high degree of time accuracy we needed in this application,” explains Hemanth Kumar  HD, Director Business Development, V3Novus. “We have always found u‑blox modules to provide the best combination of reliability and affordability.”

The LEA‑M8T concurrent GNSS module provides market leading acquisition and tracking sensitivity by supporting the GPS/QZSS, BeiDou, GLONASS and Galileo satellite systems. It integrates the same timing integrity measures found in all u‑blox timing products, which includes Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring (RAIM) and continuous phase uncertainty estimation.

About u‑blox

Swiss u‑blox (SIX:UBXN) is a global leader in wireless and positioning modules and chips for the automotive, industrial and consumer markets. u‑blox solutions enable people, vehicles and machines to locate their exact position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks. With a broad portfolio of chips, modules and software solutions, u‑blox is uniquely positioned to empower OEMs to develop innovative solutions for the Internet of Things, quickly and cost‑effectively. With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, u‑blox is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia, and the USA.

(www.u‑blox.com)

Find us on FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, Twitter @ublox and YouTube

u‑blox contact:

Natacha Seitz, PR Manager, u‑blox

Phone: + 41 44 722 7388

E‑mail: natacha.seitz@u-blox.com

About V3Novus:

V3Novus one of the leading Value added Semiconductor distributor with an in house design capabilities, offering solutions to Industrial Automation, IOT, Telecom, Railways and Military Applications. V3Novus has partnered with leading Companies in India and Overseas on their custom design needs to help them on fast Time to Market keeping our suppliers product in mind.

(www.v3novus.com)

V3Novus contact:

V3Novus Pvt Ltd

Phone: 09880150656

E‑mail: hemanth.hd@v3novus.com

Vectron TX-707; Low G TCXO Supporting Temperatures to +105°C

Courtesy of Vectron

TCXO for High Vibration with Extended Temp Range

The TX-707 Series Temperature Controlled Crystal Oscillator combines innovative manufacturing and the latest technology to provide low phase noise while supporting temperatures to +105°C. The fully hermetic assembly includes a dual crystal circuit to cancel opposing g-sensitivity vectors while being enclosed in a 5x7mm ceramic package; making the TX-707 a versatile solution for a variety of applications.

Features:

  • Operating Temp Range to +105°C
  • Low g-sensitivity: 0.1ppb/g
  • High Shock Survival up to 20kg
  • Frequency Range: 8MHz to 52MHz
  • Surface Mount, Low Profile
  • Fully Hermetic Seal
  • Low Phase Noise

Applications:

  • GNSS
  • SATCOM
  • Missile systems
  • GPS Telemetry
  • Military Portable Radios
  • Test and Measurement Equipment

TX-707 Datasheet

Marki Microwave MM1-0626H RF Mixer

Courtesy of everything RF

The MM1-0626H from Marki Microwave is a passive GaAs double balanced MMIC mixer with an RF/LO frequency from 6 GHz to 26.5 GHz and IF frequency from DC to 9 GHz. The mixer has excellent conversion loss, isolation and spurious performance across its broad bandwidth. It is available as a wire bondable chip that measures 0.058″ x 0.046″ x 0.004″ or as a module with SMA connectors. Like most Marki Microwave products this model too has a non-linear software model available with the Marki PDK for Microwave office.

Product Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Marki Microwave
  • Description: 6 GHz to 26.5 GHz GaAs Double Balanced MMIC Mixer
  • RF Frequency: 6 to 26.5 GHz
  • LO Frequency: 6 to 26.5 GHz
  • IF Frequency: DC to 9 GHZ
  • Conversion Loss: 8 to 13 dB
  • LO Drive – Power: 12 to 20 dBm
  • P1dB: 9 dBm
  • IP3: 21 to 23 dBm
  • LO/RF Isolation: 53 dB
  • LO/IF Isolation: 30 dB
  • Impedance: 50 Ohms
  • Package Type: Chip, Connectorized
  • Dimension: 0.058 x 0.046 x 0.004 Inch
  • Operating Temperature: -55 to 100 Degree C

Click to view more product details on manufacturer’s website  »

u-blox launches NINA-B3, its full-featured Bluetooth 5 module

Courtesy of u-blox

Thalwil, Switzerland – October 3, 2017 –  u‑blox (SIX:UBXN), a global leader in wireless and positioning modules and chips, is announcing the launch of its full Bluetooth 5 compliant NINA‑B3 wireless MCU (microcontroller unit) module. Featuring Bluetooth low energy long range connectivity, high data transfer rates and supporting Bluetooth mesh and 802.15.4, NINA‑B3 caters to applications in smart buildings, smart cities, and the Industry 4.0, including smart lighting systems, industrial sensor networks, asset tracking solutions, and building automation systems.

“We’re very excited to present u‑blox’s solution to bring, for the first time, Bluetooth technology to applications that require long range connectivity and high data rates,” says Pelle Svensson, Market Development Manager, Product Center Short Range Radio at u‑blox.“ Based on Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52840 chip, the u‑blox NINA‑B3 Bluetooth low energy module stands out for the attention given to streamlining product development.

The full Bluetooth 5 NINA‑B3 module is available in two flavors. The first variant, NINA‑B31, comes pre‑flashed with u‑blox’s Connectivity Software, the most feature‑rich and easy‑to‑use on the market. For product developers, eliminating the need for embedded programming means smoother, hassle‑free integration and accelerated time‑to‑market. And u‑blox’s proprietary secure boot ensures that security needs are met, even for the most critical industrial and medical applications.

The second variant, NINA‑B30, gives customers a broader scope of application thanks to Bluetooth mesh and Thread support as well as access to a whole host of wired and wireless interfaces. Its powerful Cortex M4F microcontroller can run advanced applications right on the module, reducing external hardware needs and, ultimately, shrinking end device size and cutting costs.

NINA‑B3 is available with a highly sensitive internal antenna specifically designed for the module’s small form factor, achieving optimal radio range performance even in small end product designs. Pin compatibility with the other u‑blox NINA short‑range communication modules limits design effort for product developers developing multiple device variants, e.g. featuring only Wi‑Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.

Customers can expect to get their hands on first samples by Q1 2018.

About u‑blox

Swiss u‑blox (SIX:UBXN) is a global leader in wireless and positioning modules and chips for the automotive, industrial and consumer markets. u‑blox solutions enable people, vehicles and machines to locate their exact position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks. With a broad portfolio of chips, modules and software solutions, u‑blox is uniquely positioned to empower OEMs to develop innovative solutions for the Internet of Things, quickly and cost‑effectively. With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, u‑blox is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia, and the USA.

(www.u‑blox.com)

Find us on FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, Twitter @ublox and YouTube

u‑blox contact:

Natacha Seitz, PR Manager, u‑blox

Phone: + 41 44 722 7388

E‑mail: natacha.seitz@u-blox.com