STMicro strikes deals for UWB specialist BeSpoon and NB-IoT chipmaker Riot Micro
France-based semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics (STMicro) has signed agreements to purchase the entire share capital of France-based ultra-wideband (UWB) specialist BeSpoon and the cellular IoT connectivity assets of Canada-based Riot Micro.
The deals will strengthen STMicro’s wireless connectivity portfolio, notably its STM32 family of micro-controllers, the company said. STMicro already offers Bluetooth and IEEE 802.15.4 based products, as well as “the world’s first” LoRa-enabled system-on-chip (SoC).
Claude Dardanne, president of microcontrollers and digital integrated circuits at STMicro, said: “Cellular IoT and UWB are key wireless connectivity solutions that will enable a next wave of IoT connected objects and innovative applications.”
BeSpoon, founded in 2010, produces silicon for UWB-based ‘fine ranging’, providing highly accurate positioning, compared with even the latest Bluetooth 5.0 specification. The integration of UWB in the STM32 portfolio will enable developers of IoT, automotive, and mobile applications to provide secure access, and precise indoor and outdoor mapping.
ST will acquire BeSpoon from German industrial machine manufacturer TRUMPF, and from its founders. STMicro and TRUMPF will enter into a strategic partnership for UWB tracking technology following the deal.
Riot Micro, based in Vancouver, designs IoT solutions equipped variously with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Wi-Fi, LTE-M, and NB-IoT radios. The integration of LTE-M and NB-IoT capabilities into the STM32 portfolio will strengthen the French firm’s offer for customers developing asset tracking, metering, and fleet management applications, it said.
UWB has been seized upon by the IoT market since smartphone maker Apple included the technology as part of its new U1 chip in the latest rush of iPhones.
UWB, based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, uses wide spectrum (500 MHz to several GHz) and high frequency (between 6.5 GHz and 9 GHz), at a remove from the busy ISM band at 2.4 GHz. It enables granular low-power short range positioning (‘fine ranging’) of objects in three-dimensional space – to about 10 centimetres, from a distance of about 200 metres.
As well as locating objects with high precision, it can track them using distance measurements between radios, and calculate time arrival and angle of movement. Apple says it possesses ‘spatial awareness’.
STMicro rival Nordic Semiconductor has just announced a deal with Qorvo to collaborate on dual-mode IoT products running low-power short-range BLE and UWB. The deal follows Qorvo’s acquisition of Ireland-based UWB pioneer Decawave in February. Decawave produces UWB solutions for mobile, automotive, and IoT applications.