With the introduction of the nRF7000 Wi-Fi companion IC, Nordic Semiconductor, a global leader in low-power wireless connectivity, is now established as the world’s first sole supplier of a complete silicon-to-cloud locationing solution with Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS. Nordic’s single-vendor solution, combined with the company’s world-class tech support, will simplify and accelerate product development of applications based on Wi-Fi locationing.
The new nRF7000 companion IC is a unique low-power Wi-Fi 6 chip, optimized for Wi-Fi network scanning on both the 2.4- and 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency bands. Together with Nordic’s nRF91 Series cellular IoT System-in-Package (SiP), the nRF7000 enables SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing. Nordic’s SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing enables the acquisition of accurate location fixes in an extremely power-efficient manner both indoors and outdoors, in urban and suburban areas. This is a valuable complement to GNSS, especially in buildings and in dense urban areas where GNSS can fail due to signal fading and interruptions. Scanning for Wi-Fi SSIDs for locationing is commonplace in products such as smartphones.
The nRF7000 IC is highly optimized for ultra low power Wi-Fi SSID scanning and does not support data communication via Wi-Fi. The optimization enables Nordic’s Wi-Fi locationing solution to offer a unique balance between power consumption and location precision.
Best-in-class Wi-Fi locationing
Nordic’s SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution uses the nRF7000 IC for Wi-Fi scanning and an nRF91 Series SiP for cellular communication to Nordic’s nRF Cloud. Instead of relying on traditional methods like cell towers or satellite signals, SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing scans the signals from nearby Wi-Fi access points to accurately determine a tracker’s location. This solution offers a location accuracy that is better than cellular-based but less accurate than GNSS, while being more power-efficient than GNSS and almost as power-efficient as cellular-based.
“Nordic's dedication to low power wireless technology enables us to provide highly efficient solutions for numerous IoT applications,” says Kjetil Holstad, EVP Strategy & Product Management at Nordic Semiconductor. “This focus culminates in a fusion of Wi-Fi locationing from the nRF7000 with the cellular and GNSS capabilities of the nRF91 Series SiP. Customers now need to come to just one place for a comprehensive, low power locationing solution and world-class technical support. This streamlines the process and saves them significant time and money.”
“The launch of the nRF7000 IC makes the Nordic SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution best-in-class,” explains Finn Boetius, Product Marketing Engineer at Nordic Semiconductor. “Competing solutions tend to use general-purpose Wi-Fi ICs for Wi-Fi locationing. These are usually oversized and not optimized for this specific use case. This makes them both more expensive and more power-hungry.
“The Nordic locationing solution allows a trade-off between position accuracy and power consumption,” continues Boetius. “In situations where high position precision is needed, GNSS is the best option. But if GNSS is unavailable or only a very rough location is needed, you can use cell-based locationing and save battery life; this will be accurate enough to tell you in which neighborhood your device is. If you’re still without GNSS and need more, accurate information, you include Wi-Fi information at the cost of a little more power. This will be accurate enough to tell you in which house the device is located.”
Single development environment from a single vendor
Nordic’s SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution is supported by the nRF Connect SDK, the company’s single software development environment. When used in conjunction with Nordic’s nRF Cloud Services, the SDK enables effortless over-the-air updates for application, middleware, and/or modem firmware while providing a secure and reliable update procedure.
“If you run into technical problems on a project, dealing with multiple vendors can create a massive technical support headache,” says Ville-Veikko Helppi, Product Director Cloud Solutions at Nordic Semiconductor. “That multi-vendor headache is eliminated with Nordic’s one-stop-shop solution.”
The nRF9160 SiP and nRF7000 IC combine to make a compact, power-efficient Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS locationing solution. To help developers get started on IoT end-products using this technology, Nordic has launched the nRF7002 EK (Evaluation Kit). The EK is supplied in an Arduino shield form factor and can easily be combined with an nRF9160 DK (Development Kit).
The nRF7000 Wi-Fi Companion IC and the nRF7002 EK are available now through Nordic’s distribution partners.