Nordic-powered cellular IoT data logger supports ‘unlimited’ sensor integrations for remote monitoring applications

Digital Matter

Digital Matter’s Hawk solution uses Nordic nRF9160 SiP to relay sensor data via LTE-M/NB-IoT connectivity

A recently launched IoT data logger developed by Digital Matter enables hundreds of IoT remote monitoring applications across environmental monitoring, resource management, equipment management, and more. The ‘Hawk’ is a robust, modular, plug-and-play IoT data logging solution and sensor hub designed to support an extensive range of sensor integrations. It is available in several connectivity, power, and housing variations to best fit specific applications.

The Hawk’s versatile architecture provides near limitless options for interfacing to sensors that report on data to be used for analysis or generating actions. This unique architecture, built around modular I/O cards, allows Digital Matter customers to build custom remote monitoring solutions faster and more affordably. The wide array of sensors currently integrated includes multiple temperature and humidity sensors, tilt switches, pressure sensors, thermal cameras, ultrasonic range sensors, and weather stations.

Overseeing sensors

The device employs the computational power of the Nordic nRF9160 SiP’s 64 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 application processor to oversee the sensors and collate the relevant data. The SiP’s multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem with integrated RF Front End (RFFE) enables the data to be measured, logged, and securely transmitted to any end platform via TCP Direct or HTTPS Webhook on a cellular IoT network. The SiP’s integrated support for an external antenna can increase range even further. 

Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP offers excellent low power operation, caters for both LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular connectivity, and allows us to develop our own application code while eliminating the need for an external microcontroller
Ken Everett, Digital Matter

Powerful onboard task management functionality offers the ability to schedule tasks or run events based on sensor thresholds. For example, the Hawk can be configured to turn on a pump if the tank level gets too low, or to maximize battery life by setting it to regularly sample the temperature, but only upload to the Cloud infrequently unless the temperature samples fall outside an allowable range.

“Any sector which can use remote sensor monitoring can benefit from deploying the Hawk to collect and send data,” explains Ken Everett, CEO, Digital Matter. “The most common use cases for the Hawk are found in smart agriculture where our customers use the device to monitor things like the weather, tank levels, and soil moisture. Elsewhere, some customers are using the Hawk to monitor storm water levels [to determine flood risk] and fault line detection in city power grids.”

Cloud Location Services

Digital Matter’s proprietary device management platform enables remote provisioning and monitoring of all a customer’s Digital Matter devices including the Hawk. In addition, the solution employs Nordic’s nRF Cloud Location Services – a set of commercially available features to assist devices and applications that need fast and power-efficient location details. By using the nRF9160 SiP with nRF Cloud Location Services, Digital Matter can extend the lifetime of a cellular IoT based product like the Hawk.

The Hawk can be powered by its rechargeable Li-Po battery or two D Cell LTC batteries, as well as external power including solar. The Li-Po battery has a capacity of 3500mAh. For an I2C sensor sampling every 10 minutes and uploading every hour, the Hawk’s Li-Po battery will last around 16 months on a single charge. This longevity is achieved thanks in part to the ultra-low power characteristics of the nRF9160 SiP.

“Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP offers excellent low power operation, caters for both LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular connectivity, and allows us to develop our own application code while eliminating the need for an external microcontroller,” says Everett.

“We have a great relationship with Nordic and the company’s technical support is excellent. The level of attention to detail at Nordic matches Digital Matter’s requirements.”