Management and consulting company Equastar Construction & Consulting has launched a sensing and analytics platform designed to remotely monitor environmental conditions in educational facilities, hospitals, fitness centers, and hotels. The ‘Gen 1’ environmental sensor was co-developed by design firm, Pure Engineering and Equastar, and integrates Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF9160 low power SiP with integrated cellular LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GNSS.
The Gen 1 solution supports CO2, temperature, relative humidity, Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC), motion, GPS and PM2.5 particulate matter sensors, enabling remote monitoring of ambient air quality, comfort levels, and occupancy within both public and private buildings and facilities.
The nRF9160 cellular SiP enables the device to relay environmental data directly to the ‘Equastar-IoT Cloud’ web-based dashboard—custom developed by Pure Engineering—without the need to be connected to the client or building’s IT network. This data provides facility managers with actionable insights on environmental conditions within their buildings and facilities.
“The Gen 1 sensor changes the way indoor air quality data is captured, managed, and visualized because there’s no need for recourse to a building’s own IT network,” says Eloy Vento, Senior School Facility Expert at Equastar Construction & Consulting. “Simplicity and reliability were the main aims behind the solution, alongside the ability for the user to deploy, configure, and manage the device on the Cloud in minutes.”
The Gen 1 environmental sensor supports three different power sources 120 V, 120 V in-wall buck converter 5 amp USB, or the ‘Gen 2’ with supported H-10-14500b-Purple mAh Li-ion battery. The device has an 8-10 year product life expectancy without the need for sensor calibration. The nRF9160 SiP supports both PSM and eDRX power saving modes. For both LTE-M and NB-IoT the PSM floor current is as low as 2.7 µA, and with an eDRX interval of 655 s the average current is 6 µA for LTE-M and 9 µA for NB-IoT.
“The key differentiator of the nRF9160 SiP was the low power Arm processor which gave us the ability to fully develop a customized application without the need to add a second processor,” says Sashi Ono, Principal Embedded Systems Engineer at Pure Engineering. “This results in a much simpler design as well as tighter integration with the cellular software stack that greatly improves the entire firmware development and IoT capability. The ability to communicate with and update the Gen-1 device firmware over-the-air was also essential to the solution for Equastar Construction & Consulting.
“The Nordic nRF Connect SDK was of great assistance during development by providing extensive examples and samples along with tested release versions of the code to build a stable application.”