NIB: Tech gains, chip approvals, contract wins for IoT makers Nordic, Altair, u-blox
Nordic Semiconductor release cellular IoT prototyping platform for asset tracking apps
Nordic Semiconductor has released a cellular IoT prototyping platform that enables instant connectivity, both cellular and GNSS worldwide. The firm said the package will allow IoT platform designers to start with a “whole design”, so they are not required to build hardware from scratch, and save time and money. The platform is geared for development of asset tracking applications.
The new (and rather awkwardly named) Thingy:91 is based on Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT SiP with GPS. The battery-powered unit comes with a roaming SIM card and 16 sensors. Importantly, it integrates antenna tech from Barcelona-based Fractus Antennas, which uses a single embedded chip antenna component (TRIO mXTEND, part of the Virtual Antenna family from Fractus Antennas) for both cellular and GNSS. It provides connectivity from 700 MHz up to 2200 MHz.
Nordic Semiconductor is making the solution available to developers with a cellular asset tracking application out of the box. It cited tracking of containers, livestock, people, parcels, equipment, and other items. The Thingy:91 works as a prototyping platform for other IoT applications, as well, it said.
John Leonard, senior product marketing manager at Nordic Semiconductor, said: “The Thingy:91 is aimed at professional developers and non-cellular IoT specialists alike. Not only does it allow developers new to the world of cellular IoT to get a PoC up and running very quickly in order to gain necessary project and budget approvals, it also makes turning proofs into real products very straightforward, right down to using the same code and development environment.”
Softbank certifies dual-mode NB-IoT/LTE-M ALT1250 chip from Altair Semiconductor
The ALT1250 NB-IoT chipset from Israeli IoT firm Altair Semiconductor has been accredited and made available by Japanese operator Softbank across its businesses. The ALT1250 is targeted at low power cellular-connected smart meters, telematics devices, trackers, wearables, and home appliances.
Altair’s ALT1250 dual-mode LTE-M/NB-IoT chipset features integrated MCU and GNSS, for integration in a range of industrial and consumer IoT applications. It also boasts the longest battery life of all NB-IoT chipsets, claims its maker.
Takenori Kobayashi, vice president variously of Softbank’s device technology division, network unit, and technology unit, commented: “Altair’s ALT1250 chipset is one of the outstanding cellular IoT solutions. SoftBank is constantly looking for chipset platforms that will boost our connectivity range. The ALT1250 can make us stand out in the global marketplace, and provide increased value to customers. More plans with the ALT1250 are to come.”
AddMobile selects trio of u-blox modules for construction-site tracking product
Service provider AddMobile is using u-blox’s NINA-B1 Bluetooth low energy module for its short-range equipment-tracking beacons for construction site management.
Swedish firm AddMobile is adding radio tracking beacons to construction tools and equipment as part of its AddTracker offer, comprising IoT platform and sensors, to help site managers control mobile work orders, log fleet vehicle mileages, secure entry to work sites, register staff, and handle fleet management and equipment safety.
AddMobile is using a variety of hardware for its package for construction companies, including stationary hubs and entrance control units with Bluetooth low energy and cellular connectivity, as well as an RFID reader, and mobile hubs with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), Bluetooth low energy and cellular connectivity.
Swiss IoT module maker u-blox is providing its NINA-B1 module, alongside its GSM/GPRS cellular module SARA-G3 and MAX-M8 GNSS module series.
The AddTracker beacons issue the unique ID and GNSS coordinate of assets, via a cloud platform. Managers receive data on their mobile devices with an image of the asset and its position on a map, as well as its features and maintenance schedule. Tools can be tracked on site by static hubs, and then followed as they are put into company vans for use offsite, explained u-blox. Staff scheduling offsite jobs can know the location of staff, and whether they have the tools to undertake each task.
The collaboration between AddMobile and u-blox may extend to the use of a longer range variant of Bluetooth and cellular technology in asset tracking.
Bo Lyvall, business development manager at AddMobile, said: “The AddTracker beacons and hubs rely upon a combination of GNSS positioning, cellular connectivity, and Bluetooth low energy short range radio interfaces. u-blox was able to provide all three key technologies for our solutions, as well as providing great local support in the Malmö area.”