Nordic-powered geolocation asset tracker suits tough environments and features claimed battery life of over 10 years

Digital Matter

Digital Matter’s Oyster3 uses Nordic low power nRF9160 SiP for power-efficient and accurate wireless asset tracking and movement detection

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that IoT technology company, Digital Matter, is using Nordic’s nRF9160 low power System-in-Package (SiP) with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem in its ‘Oyster3’ asset tracking and management solution. Oyster3 is the next-generation version of Digital Matter’s Oyster series. Featuring an IP67-rated weatherproof, ultra-rugged housing to survive in tough work environments, the battery-powered geolocation device enables telematics businesses to easily track and manage a wide range of both powered and non-powered assets including vehicles, heavy equipment, tools, bins, and containers. The device features an on-board temperature sensor and a 3-axis accelerometer for movement detection, high-G events, tip detection, rotation counting, and more. 

Continuous location tracking

Oyster3 uses Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) including GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, and QZSS, combined with cell tower location fallback in the absence of a GNSS signal. This enables continuous location tracking and traceability, loss and theft prevention, geofencing, asset use optimization, and preventative maintenance, as well as optional movement-based tracking.

Following extensive analysis of competing cellular IoT solutions we selected Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP due to its feature set and most importantly its very low power operation
Ken Everett, Digital Matter

The nRF9160 is a low power SiP certified for global cellular IoT applications, comprising a 64MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 dedicated application processor and memory, multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem with integrated RF Front End (RFFE), GPS, and power management in a compact 10 by 16 by 1mm package. The dedicated application processor runs the Digital Matter firmware that manages and performs the GNSS location lookups, and interfaces to the accelerometer for movement and high-G events. 

When equipped with a roaming SIM, Oyster3 supports automatic roaming between LTE-M and NB-IoT networks with minimal delay and marginal impact on battery life or performance.The SiP also enables new early registration abort and location scan throttling options to save power and optimize the device for different use cases across varied network coverage. 

Using three AA lithium batteries or Lithium Thionyl Chloride (LTC) batteries (for extreme temperature operation), the tracker achieves battery life of over 10 years at once-daily position updates, 7 years of battery life for movement-based location updates, or 3.5 years of battery life at once-hourly position updates. This represents around five times the battery life of the product’s previous iteration, ‘Oyster2’, according to the company. Oyster3’s significantly reduced power consumption is achieved thanks in part to the ultra low power characteristics of the Nordic SiP. The nRF9160 supports both PSM and eDRX power saving modes. For both LTE-M and NB-IoT the PSM floor current is as low as 2.7µA, and with an eDRX interval of 655 seconds the average current is 6µA for LTE-M and 9µA for NB-IoT.

The Oystser3 intelligently transmits the whereabouts of the tracked item via a cellular LTE-M or NB-IoT network. Digital Matter’s ‘OEM Device Server’ Cloud-based platform can be used to manage and update devices over-the-air. Location and other asset/device data can also be sent to any IoT or telematics platform with comprehensive documentation and a flexible and open payload format. The Nordic SiP supports over-the-air device firmware updates (OTA-DFUs).  

The nRF9160 SiP’s includes the Arm processor, 1MB Flash and 256kB RAM, Arm TrustZone® for trusted execution, and Arm CryptoCell™ 310 for application layer security. The nRF9160 SiP’s LTE modem supports both SIM and eSIM, offers 700 to 2200MHz LTE band support, 23dBm output power, -108dBm RX sensitivity in LTE-M, and -114dBm RX sensitivity in NB-IoT mode, and single pin 50Ω antenna- and UICC-interfaces.

Low power operation

“Following extensive analysis of competing cellular IoT solutions we selected Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP due to its feature set and most importantly its very low power operation,” says Ken Everett, CEO of Digital Matter. 

“Nordic has a good reputation for well-engineered products. The nRF Connect SDK has been very useful in getting up to speed with the Zephyr OS development environment architecture, while Nordic’s technical information, support, and example codes and projects have all been excellent.”