u-blox accelerates the development of low power location trackers with u-track toolset

Courtesy of u-blox : u-track toolset

Using the u‑track and C030‑R410M toolset, product designers can have a working prototype of their application up and running in no time 


Thalwil, Switzerland – September 11, 2018 – u‑blox (SIX:UBXN), a global provider of leading positioning and wireless communication technologies, today introduced the toolset comprising the u‑track software and the C030‑R410M application board. The toolset is a rapid‑prototyping platform that lets product designers test and optimize the position accuracy and power consumption of wireless location tracking applications that use LTE‑M and NB‑IoT cellular networks, as well as Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology. The toolset targets product engineers working on battery powered applications such as sport, people and asset trackers.

An increasing number of battery powered consumer and industrial products feature integrated GNSS receivers. These products include virtual reality headsets, smart watches, and devices to track elderly people, containers or parcels. With the ongoing roll‑out of low power wide area cellular networks (LPWAN) such as LTE‑M and NB‑IoT technologies around the world and the extremely low power consumption they enable, the range of use cases for wireless location trackers is expected to expand further.

“With today’s technology, product designers can now include optimized battery life in their applications,” says Florian Bousquet, Product Manager, Product Center Positioning, at u‑blox. “We developed this toolset to give customers a quick and easy way to test the accuracy and the power consumption of their product ideas using the latest generation of our technology,” he says. “In many cases, they can replicate their applications and start testing the performance of different device configurations in under 15 minutes.”

“The toolset offers access to the very latest technologies, from LTE‑M and NB‑IoT cellular communication to our proprietary Super‑E mode that delivers the best balance between power consumption and GNSS positioning performance,” he adds.

The u‑track software runs from embedded firmware on the new u‑blox C030‑R410M application board. The board, specifically designed to rapidly prototype applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), includes an ultra‑small, low power u‑blox ZOE‑M8B GNSS receiver and a size‑optimized SARA‑R410M LTE‑M/NB‑IoT cellular communication module.

Additionally, u‑track includes a PC software application. Its user‑friendly dashboard lets users log, retrieve, and visualize power consumption, accuracy, and other important values, such as the time it takes the GNSS receiver to calculate a position (Time‑To‑First‑Fix, TTFF).

The u‑track and C030‑R410M toolset will be showcased on September 12‑14 at Mobile World Congress Americas, u‑blox Booth no S.2702.

About u‑blox
u‑blox (SIX:UBXN) is a global provider of leading positioning and wireless communication technologies for the automotive, industrial, and consumer markets. Their solutions let people, vehicles, and machines determine their precise position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks. With a broad portfolio of chips, modules, and a growing ecosystem of product supporting data services, u‑blox is uniquely positioned to empower its customers to develop innovative solutions for the Internet of Things, quickly and cost‑effectively. With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, the company is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia, and the USA.

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u‑blox contact:
Natacha Seitz
PR Manager
Mobile +41 76 436 0788

u‑blox AG
Zürcherstrasse 68
8800 Thalwil
Phone +41 44 722 74 44
Fax +41 44 722 74 47

ANN-MB series Antenna

ANN-MB series Antenna by u-blox AG

Courtesy of u-blox : ANN-MB series Antenna by u-blox AG

The ANN-MB multi-band active GNSS antennas from u-blox support signals on the L1 and L2/L5 bands of the four key global navigation satellite constellations (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou). They deliver a gain of up to 28 dB while operating over a 5 V supply. The antennas measure 60 x 55 x 22.5 mm, have versatile mounting and connector options (SMA, SMB, MCX) and support an extended temperature range of up to 105°C, making them suitable for applications subject to extreme temperatures.

Product Details

    • Part Number : ANN-MB series
    • Manufacturer : u-blox AG
    • Description : Multi-Band, High Precision GNSS Antennas

General Parameters

    • Directionality : Omni-Directional
    • Polarization : RHCP
    • Standards : GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BEIDOU
    • Frequency : 1197 to 1249, 1559 to 1606 MHz
    • Cable : 5 m RG174 standard
    • Gain : 2 to 3.5 dBi
    • Industry : GNSS
    • Connectors : SMA, SMB, MCX
    • Dimension : 60.0 x 55.0 x 22.5 mm
    • Weight : 167 g
    • Operating Temperature : -40 to 105 Degrees C
    • Storage Temperature : -40 to 105 Degrees C
    • Current : 16 mA
    • Noise Figure : 2.7 to 3.8 dB
    • Voltage : 3 to 5 V
5G New applications

5G: New applications, new business opportunities

Courtesy of u-blox : 5G: New applications, new business opportunities

With the completion of 3GPP Release 15 in June, 2018, the definition of 5G standards is already partly buttoned up. But even before they were finalized, industries were busy laying the foundations for new technologies and applications that will leverage the performance improvements and new use cases that 5G networks will bring.

As we outlined in a previous post, the leap from 4G to 5G is about more than just speed. Yes, 5G networks will enable more than 10x faster data rates on smartphones. But arguably the largest impact will come from improvements on two other fronts, namely ultra‑reliable low latency service, and massive connectivity with unprecedented coverage.

From virtual reality to the Internet of Skills

It may still take a few years for 5G to impact you in your everyday life, but when it does, you’ll feel the difference. High data rates – up to several gigabytes per second – will transform the way you communicate, and might finally let augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) live up to their much‑hyped potential. You’ll be able to stream high definition videos on all your devices and leverage the computing power of the cloud in ways that are unimaginable today.

Ultra‑low latency down to half a millisecond, 99.999% availability, and predictable quality of service will enable critical applications that improve safety and wellbeing. Vehicle‑to‑pedestrian communication, to name one, will alert drivers when pedestrians cross roads. Another is remote surgery, with which surgeons will be able to operate, via a robotic arm, on patients that are on the other side of the planet – just one fascinating illustration of the so‑called Internet of Skills that highly secure and resilient communication over 5G networks will enable.

Just imagine the density of connected devices that mobile communication networks will have to reckon with. Our homes, cities, and industries will all be connected. And so will we, with our wearables and all the other devices that will serve us and connect us to social networks, day in, day out. Combined, they will lead to an explosion in the number of connected devices per square kilometer, heightened demands on power efficiency, and on network coverage that 5G networks are fully geared to handle.

Innovation driving technology driving innovation

A recent white paper (gated) by Ericsson predicts a 36 percent revenue increase for mobile network operators by 2026. They predict that other industries will see far greater revenue increases as they digitalize their operations to better meet the needs of their customers, increase their productivity and efficiency, and limit risks and, thus, downtime.

At u‑blox, we’re already out of the starting blocks in the race for 5G, with our portfolio of low power wide area (LPWA) technologies.  LTE‑M and NB‑IoT, the two most prominent licensed cellular LPWA technologies, will be forward compatible with 5G networks and therefore vital 5G components. They are already today enabling a new wave of IoT applications, primarily in the consumer and industrial markets.

But 5G also holds tremendous promise for the automotive industry. In vehicle‑to‑everything (V2X) communication, 5G will expand cellular V2X (C‑V2X) capability, providing a very fast and reliable data pipe between vehicles, infrastructures and pedestrians. C‑V2X is expected to complement 802.11p‑based V2X technology, already ready for deployment, which will provide the underlying connectivity for safety‑related real‑time critical applications.

Because there is so much at stake, we at u‑blox have been working closely with other industry stakeholders in 3GPP to define 5G technology specifications to ensure that the 5G standards meet the needs for emerging use cases and services and still leave ample room for innovation. 3GPP just finalized Release 15 of the mobile communication radio standards featuring the initial business critical features of 5G in June, 2018. The next date to pencil into your agenda is December 2019, when the second phase of 5G NR radio standards will be submitted in Release 16.

If you are an end‑user waiting to be blown away by the technology, you will need some more patience. But if you’re hoping to leverage 5G technology to stand out in your industry, pull out your agenda and circle today, because now is the time to act.


Getting ready for 5G

Courtesy of u-blox by Sylvia Lu (Senior Engineer, Cellular Technology) : Getting ready for 5G

By 2023, Ericsson predicts that each active smartphone in North America will consume 48 gigabytes of data per month. That’s roughly a seven‑fold increase compared to 2017. The trend is the same across global markets, driven by improvements in our smartphones, increasingly data‑rich content, and better, more affordable data plans.

At the same time as smart homes, cities and industries are linking up to the cloud, entirely new applications are opening across industry verticals with demanding requirements on network capacity and capability, including sub‑millisecond latency and the ability to service over one million devices per square kilometer. A new generation of cellular networks will be needed to transform existing 4G networks and extend the reach of cellular technologies into new verticals, such as automotive, satellite, and cable.

The industry’s answer to the increased network capacity and hyper‑connected society we’re moving towards is 5G cellular communication technology. 5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology standards primarily defined by 3GPP, the standardization body responsible for defining global cellular communications standards.

1G cellular technology (which never went by that name) offered wireless voice communication based on analog technologies. With each successive generation, from 2G to 3G to 4G, data gained in importance as coverage and capacity expanded, to the point that today’s 4G networks are designed primarily for data, at rates up to 40,000 times faster than first generation technologies. 5G networks take these trends to the next level, while at the same time enabling entirely new services and applications.

Not just faster…

5G standards are being defined jointly by the 3GPP in two separate releases. The first phase, Release 15, was finalized in mid‑June, 2018. Release 16 is scheduled to be completed by December 2019. Together, they address future demands and enable new services through three key usage scenarios: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra‑low latency and high reliability (uRLLC), and massive machine type communications (mMTC).

eMBB expands the spectrum dedicated to cellular communication to much higher frequencies that transport data at faster speeds. To do so, cell towers could be equipped with more than one hundred antennas that all transmit and receive signals simultaneously using massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology. To ensure that data is delivered reliably and securely across the network, it leverages a series of sophisticated technologies, such as beam forming, which sends signals containing data packets along the optimal path to end‑users.

The “uR” in uRLLC stands for ultra‑reliable, and this isn’t an overstatement. 5G standards require the outage rate to be 10-5, compared to 0.05 today. And requirements for radio latency are set to under one millisecond, with no interruptions when users move from one cell to the next. Such unprecedented levels of reliability will pave the way for a new wave of innovation in industrial automation, unmanned vehicles, and health, all the way to remote surgery.

Finally, mMTC, will continue to evolve the developments in low power wide area (LPWA) communications (e.g. NB‑IoT and LTE Cat M1) with 5G LTE in Release 16 and beyond. This will contribute to support achievable device density at one million devices per square kilometer, enabling device battery lives of 15 years, and extreme coverage up to 400 kilometers. Most of these improvements will be achieved at the cost of reduced peak data‑rates, by reducing modem complexity and repeating transmissions for enhanced coverage, not only indoors, but also in basements and underground. In parallel, new solutions NR‑IoT for industrial type applications will be designed to operate on the 5G New Radio (5G NR) air interface to leverage uRLLC features in Release 16.

A few more years to go

5G made its global debut during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, where it was used to broadcast live immersive HD images of the sporting events in virtual reality. It’s no coincidence that China, Korea, and Japan are leading the transition to 5G, along with the United Kingdom and the United States.

Networks will evolve to incorporate existing NB‑IoT and LTE‑M technologies and their evolutions in the 5G era. But 5G NR Standalone (SA) will require new network infrastructure and it will take a couple of years for networks to roll out worldwide. The completion of 5G radio specifications in Phase 1 was certainly a big step toward 5G commercialization. The wait will test our patience, but on the bright side, it will give all involved time to getting fully prepared for 5G.

SARA-N410-02B Cellular Module by u-blox AG

SARA-N410-02B Cellular Module by u-blox AG

Courtesy of everything RF : SARA-N410-02B Cellular Module by u-blox AG

The SARA-N410-02B module from u-blox is a compact LTE Cat M1/NB1 module for USA and Taiwan. The module can dynamically switch between Cat M1 and NB-IoT without rebooting. It has a long life, low-maintenance, cost-sensitive, lower-power consumption, and can be used in extended battery life applications such as smart buildings, people and asset tracking, agricultural monitoring, connected health, usage-based insurance, smart cities and smart meters. It provides an extended temperature range of -40 to +85°C, and supports Power Save Mode (PSM) and Extended Discontinuous Reception (e-DRX) for LTE Cat M1 and NB-IoT connectivity, which can extend battery lifetime for up to 10 years. 3GPP Coverage Enhancement allows the module’s Cat M1 connectivity to reach deeper into buildings and basements, and even underground with NB-IoT when compared to other air interface technologies such as GSM or Cat 1. It is available in a 16 x 26 x 2.5 mm surface mount package.

Product Details

    • Part Number : SARA-N410-02B
    • Manufacturer : u-blox AG
    • Description : LTE Cat M1/NB1 Module for USA and Taiwan

General Parameters

    • LTE/4G Band : B2, B3, B4, B5, B8, B12, B13, B28
    • IoT : Yes
    • Package : 96 pin LGA
    • Interface : UART, USB, DDC
    • Datarate Download Link : 27.2 kbps
    • Datarate Uplink : 62.5 kbps
    • Votage : 3.2 to 4.2 V
    • Size : 16 x 26 x 2.5 mm
    • Weight : 3 g
    • Operating Temperature : -40 to 85 Degrees C
    • ROHS : Yes

A grand vision: one world, one device

Courtesy of u-blox : A grand vision: one world, one device

The global expansion of low power wide area networks (LPWAN) is picking up pace and for good reasons. Demand is there, with plenty of low hanging fruit to reward investments. Pick a market application and you’ll easily be able to list ways that LPWA technologies can be used to automate processes, track assets, monitor infrastructure, and, ultimately, save costs. From fleet management to asset and personnel tracking, from enabling predictive maintenance for industrial machines to making homes, buildings, utilities, and vehicles smart, their potential is huge.

The technologies are market ready too.  Mobile network operators (MNOs) and solution providers have a strong and diverse offering on their shelves. MNOs are accelerating their deployments of licensed cellular LPWA networks, such as NB‑IoT (LTE Cat NB1) and LTE Cat M1, and the required hardware is following suit. By the end of 2018, licensed LPWA networks are likely to service most of the U.S., Europe, and the Asia Pacific markets.

Because they are standardized, licensed LPWA technologies offer the most reliable communication solution for global IoT applications. The widespread availability of NB‑IoT, for instance, means that you can use the same underlying technology for applications targeting markets in all four corners of the globe. The introduction of roaming agreements across operators and regions will simplify deployments for applications that cross national or even continental borders. And because operators are required to meet service level agreements, they have a strong incentive to ensure that networks are reliable.

Fragmentation in the ecosystem

But start developing a global application and before you know it, you’ll find yourself struggling to deal with a highly fragmented technological, commercial, and regulatory landscape. It begins with differing regional priorities for the initial roll outs of LPWA technology. North America placed their first bets on LTE Cat M1 with NB‑IoT fast following, while Asia and Europe have shown a preference for NB‑IoT with LTE Cat M1 drafting behind.

Moreover, the way spectrum is allocated within a country or region is highly fragmented across dozens of frequency bands. One way to work around this involves managing multiple product variants around the globe. While this may address network fragmentation from a regional viewpoint, it falls short of the enormous efficiencies offered by a global solution that delivers connectivity essentially everywhere, all the time, and for prolonged lifetimes.

And all that comes even before you embark on the marathon of getting your device certified for local markets.

Streamline and simplify

At u‑blox, we are doing our part to make your work easier by developing cellular modules that take the giant leap toward realizing the vision of: one world, one device. The u‑blox SARA‑R4/N4 Series of ultra‑compact LTE Cat M1, NB‑IoT, and EGPRS modules will let you defer device configuration to zero hour. Zero hour means that configuration decisions are postponable until the last moment or are available to be made perpetually into the future.  Enable or disable LTE bands, select the Radio Access Technology as either a single or preferred mode, select from an available catalog of pre‑approved MNO profiles, add new MNO profiles without changing the host software, or make critical updates using uFOTA.

Developing successful LPWA solutions for global markets calls for a flexible hardware and software solution that you know you can rely on wherever your devices are deployed. As the global coverage map evolves from month to month, and MNOs compete with more and more advantageous offerings, the possibility to adapt in real time will make it easier to transform your idea into a device that works in all four corners of the globe.

SARA-G450 module

u-blox SARA-G450 module

Courtesy of u-blox : SARA-G450 module

Quad-band GSM/GPRS module

Ideal for cost-optimized solutions

  • Industry proven SARA form factor
  • Easy migration between u‑blox 2G, 3G, LPWA (Cat M1 and Cat NB1), LTE Cat 4 and LTE Cat 6 modules
  • Simple integration with embedded Internet suite
  • Optimized power consumption for IoT applications

The SARA-G450 GSM/GPRS module features class 12 GSM/GPRS connectivity in the popular u-blox SARA form factor. The SARA-G450 module is an ideal solution for cost and space-sensitive applications. It offers an excellent price-to-performance ratio for all M2M applications where environmental conditions (temperature, EMC and mechanical stresses) are within standard levels. Its rich feature set – including GSM/GPRS class 12 and simple integration – enable customers to easily integrate the module and develop a wide range of M2M devices.

Thanks to its pin compatibility with the u-blox modules SARA-G3 (GSM), SARA-U2 (HSPA), SARA-R4/N4 (LTE Cat M1/ Cat NB1), SARA-N2 (LTE Cat NB1), TOBY-L2 (LTE Cat 4) and TOBY R2/LARA-R2/LARA-R3121 (LTE Cat 1), the SARA-G450 allows customers to utilize the same PCB design, thus targeting various environmental requirements and different cellular technologies. u-blox cellular modules are certified and approved by the main regulatory bodies and operators.

SARA-G450 Product Summary


wearable market

Making sense of the wearable market

Courtesy of u-blox : wearable market

The wearable market is undergoing a rapid evolution, which is driving innovation and influencing the time‑to‑market. From a usage experience, main drivers are fashion and personality choices that in turn drive requirements on form factor and usability. Further, monetization is moving from the device to services and thus driving big data / cloud analytics, a total ecosystem which is defined as the Internet of Things (IoT).


There’s a saying, “sitting is the new smoking”, implying health risks for those who don’t exercise. We see companies issuing health insurance to push their customers to be more physically active in order to lower the risk of future health problems. In the wearable industry, activity devices are already being used to encourage the user to be more active, and there is growing interest in using data to support the reduction of insurance premiums for active users. This trend is to a large extent driven by companies that are supporting the premiums of their employees. In these cases, enterprise programs are launched and each employee gets an activity tracker “for free”. With these trackers, they are incentivized to be more active and the company can then save costs on the insurance premiums plus benefit from a healthier staff.


The first generation of tech wearables was focused on function rather than fashion. Today, this is no longer the case, and fashion tech is here to stay. Wearables have become fashionable accessories in a range of styles, screens / no screens, material, and more. Wearables have been identified by fashion brands, OEMs, and watch makers as a growth area, and therefore, strategic investments are made to sustain this growth. Examples already underway include Fossil buying Misfit and HTC partnering with Under Armor. We see key watch brands (such as Casio, Citizen, Alpina) following this trend by integrating smart electronics in their products.


Not only has it become trendy to be fit and track your progress on your own, but today we want to share our achievements after the exercise. A brand that recognized this upcoming trend already a few years back was GoPro when they introduced their action camera slogan “You’re the Hero”. Hence, products that track your physical performance results are required – not only for the sake of knowing the performance, but to actually show the world how good you are and to compare your performance with that of your peers.

User interface

We will also see significant changes to the user interface of wearables. Wearable technology users want to interact with the device via speech or even via image recognition. The devices thus need to evolve technically to satisfy the growing needs for interactivity with our personal senses.


Wearables fit very nicely with our growing need for precise tracking of the whereabouts of our loved ones, while also offering educational and interactive content. The elderly, kids and pets can be fitted with real‑time accurate location tracking devices with convenient safety zone settings. For instance, Korean KIWI PLUS’ smartwatch offers such capabilities.

Time management

By enriching the experience and meeting desires to optimize our lives around the clock, we see new trends in the on‑the‑go‑lifestyle time management. With the influx of wearable tech devices we gain insight on how to keep our lives on track.


Not only do we want to control our time, but also our everyday communication from emails and phone calls, or interact with our surroundings, such as the smart home. Intelligent wearables such as smart watches give us new connectivity tools that are ready when we are.

Augmented reality

The possibility to interact with a device for pleasure or enhanced virtual experience is a fascinating new trend; the Pokémon GO fever in 2016 clearly showed how we want to be on the go and experience new worlds. Augmented reality can change how we interact with the world around us – from location sensing personalized messages to personal interaction.

unmanned vehicles

The possibilities of unmanned vehicles

Courtesy of u-blox : The possibilities of unmanned vehicles

The unmanned vehicle business is projected to see substantial growth over the coming years, with a market worth USD 30+ billion by 2022. Several major trends and initiatives are underway, driving this growth forward. For instance, there is an increased need for more robustness and security, smaller footprints, and reduced power consumption as well as for even higher performance.

Safety & Security

Future unmanned vehicle applications will require more navigation control and security, as pilots and drivers become less involved in steering. There have been concerns that today’s mass market positioning technology cannot deliver enough accuracy to enable automated navigation and that safety and security breaches could potentially lead to loss of vehicle control. As the market evolves, so have the technologies offering higher positioning accuracy and heightened security features. High precision GNSS position information enables highly automated applications while trustworthy and secure position information enables fully autonomous operations.

Component optimization

Unmanned vehicles require high precision control. Because of their comparatively high manufacturing bill of materials (BOM), they have been unable to afford the size, power, or cost of the high precision technologies used in the surveying and heavy machinery markets. As the BOM in the consumer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and drone markets has come down, low cost, high performance industrial UAV applications have become viable, driving the need for high precision control, for instance for professional UAV applications.

New use cases

The evolving market has given rise to new use cases. Commercial UAV operations are, for instance, becoming increasingly common in mapping and inspection applications. We also see an increased interest in UAV delivery applications led by Google, UPS, Mercedes‑Benz, and Amazon. More and more business‑critical markets such as agriculture and machine control have adopted high precision GNSS technologies to satisfy their automation needs, yet costs have limited mass adoption. A brand new use case is Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), which is looking at ways to integrate UAV flights into the airspace without a UAV pilot. Many more applications will emerge as the growth of the robotic homecare market reduces the cost of small ground vehicle robotics manufacturing.

Remote control connectivity

Unmanned vehicles require new means for monitoring and remote control that put the human above the system rather than inside it. These cases require secure and stable connectivity technologies offering cellular and short range radio connectivity.

Connected City

Connecting cities to the information age

Courtesy of u-blox : Connecting cities to the information age

Studies show that by 2020, cities will have nearly 1 billion smart meters and that 50 million street lights will be smart street lights. Let’s highlight the key market drivers fueling this Smart City application growth.


A preliminary requirement for a Smart City investment is sustainability. The technologies used to operate these cities must enable clean energy initiatives to create a greener, more environmentally‑friendly city that successfully meets energy, emission, and waste reduction goals. Examples include optimization of pickup routes in waste management, parking systems to reduce driving time in search for an available spot, emissions sensors, and street lighting solutions that respond to current environmental conditions.

Public safety

Ranging from traffic situation monitoring and responsiveness to improved lighting solutions and video surveillance at main intersections, public safety initiatives can lower crime and reduce traffic incidents.


By implementing wireless and positioning technologies, a Smart City enjoys many cost savings:

  • Long deployments — Smart City devices can be remotely monitored and receive critical security and firmware updates over the air (FOTA) long after they are installed, ensuring that the infrastructure remains safe as well as reducing cost and eliminating the need to update devices individually
  • Lower maintenance — Devices can be monitored remotely, reducing expenditures for maintenance workers that have to be sent out to visually inspect equipment or record utility meter data
  • Reduced energy expenditures — Smart City applications lower power consumption for municipalities. Examples include adaptive street lighting that can respond via sensors to environmental or traffic conditions and route optimizations for city vehicles
  • Reduced wear & tear — Data captured by Smart City technologies can be used to manage city assets more effectively when and where they are most needed