“Plug and play” NB-IoT solution targets high volume, low cost applications and includes native support for Microsoft Azure IoT


Having been newly acquired by Vodafone, German developer grandcentrix says its end-to-end ‘Cellular Twin’ IoT solution – which employs a Nordic nRF9160 multi-mode LTE-M/NB-IoT System-in-Package (SiP) – is one of the fastest, low cost ways to digitize and network almost any product or application in high volume (100K units plus) including doors, soap dispensers, elevators, power tools, and industrial machines, to name but a few

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that a leading German IoT solution provider, grandcentrix – which is now part of Vodafone – is employing a Nordic nRF9160 SiP at the heart of its high volume, low cost Cellular Twin NB-IoT platform.

Cellular Twin is designed to enable product manufacturers to rapidly digitize their products by transferring telemetry and usage data to the cloud. “With Cellular Twin product manufacturers do not have to invest in risky projects anymore, but can rather make use of a ready-to-go, all-in-one solution,” says Daniel Bracht, a Senior Growth Hacker at grandcentrix.

The hardware of Cellular Twin is a compact, standardized mainboard with optional expansion modules that is designed to turn almost any existing device or product into a smart IoT device by networking it. This includes all required IT, hardware, and in-built connectivity all the way up to native Microsoft Azure IoT support and compatibility with all other major IoT cloud platforms via secure https and MQTT comms.
Our mission is to connect and make smart many of the products that are not connected today but would benefit enormously from becoming part of the IoT
Fabian Kochem, grandcentrix
The mainboard is connected to a product controller via a 15-pin interface and establishes a secure connection to Vodafone’s global NB-IoT M2M cellular network via the integrated Nordic nRF9160 SiP, which also supports over-the-air updates and GPS functionality.
grandcentrix says four digital inputs, four analog inputs (0-10V), and two digital outputs are available on the interface to cover the majority of common industrial applications. And simple analog sensors and digital buttons as well as more complex interfaces such as TTL-UART can also be connected.
And being part of Vodafone has also enabled grandcentrix to build complete SIM management into its Cellular Twin solution to enable seamless international operation and roaming.
“We designed Cellular Twin to be simple and secure while supporting low cost, high volume adoption in the widest range of products and applications,” comments Fabian Kochem, the Cellular Twin Product Manager at grandcentrix. “In fact most of our customers will have working prototypes within a few weeks to test and assess, and can expect to go into volume production at anywhere between 100K and tens of millions of units in as little as six to nine months. And this will typically be at just a third of the cost they could reasonably expect using any comparable platform at high volume.”
Kochem continues: “Our mission is to connect and make smart many of the products that are not connected today but would benefit enormously from becoming part of the Internet of Things. In this way large cleaning service providers, for example, could further optimize their operations by telling which of their client assets have been cleaned in real-time rather than relying on an out-of-date and prone-to-human-error manual monitoring and reporting process.”