Nordic Semiconductor powers cellular IoT, GNSS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth LE indoor/outdoor asset tracker

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Tavago Tech’s Tuff uses Nordic nRF9160 SiP, nRF7000 companion IC, nRF52833 SoC, and nPM1100 PMIC for low power asset tracking

A newly launched asset tracker employing a combination of cellular IoT, GNSS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth® LE wireless technologies has been unveiled by Chennai, India-based, Tavago Tech. The ‘Tuff’ device enables the detection of asset movement, operation, and tampering, at the same time supporting extended battery life and range, in a miniature design. 

Featuring an IP68-rated waterproof, rugged ABS plastic enclosure to survive in tough environments, Tuff is a battery-powered locationing device designed to enable global indoor and outdoor tracking of personnel, cargo, and assets. Tuff is currently available in two product variants with dimensions of 85 by 58 by 9 mm and 120 by 50 by 25 mm (including mounting flanges) respectively. The products feature a vibration sensor to detect asset operation parameters, a highly accurate 3-axis accelerometer for movement detection, a device tamper sensor to detect if the device is tampered with or opened, and a sensor to detect if the device is removed from the asset. 


Nordic nRF9160 SiP enables GNSS and NB-IoT 

Equipped with the Nordic nRF9160 low power SiP with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GNSS, Tuff employs high precision, low power GNSS and NB-IoT connectivity for both indoor and outdoor tracking. The cellular connectivity enables the location data to be relayed to the Cloud. The computational power of the nRF9160 SiP’s 64 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 application processor is also used to oversee all the sensors and peripherals and collate the relevant data.   

In addition, the Nordic nRF7000 Wi-Fi 6 Companion IC is integrated for indoor locationing (in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands) based on the SSID of Wi-Fi access points (APs). The nRF7000 seamlessly integrates with Nordic’s nRF91 Series cellular SiPs and is designed specifically for SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing. The Tuff solution also employs the Nordic nRF52833 advanced multiprotocol SoC to serve additional uses cases by pairing with Bluetooth LE beacons or to provide stand-alone Bluetooth LE connectivity. This setup delivers robust and accurate location results indoor and out, while allowing users to trade-off location precision against battery life. 
We considered competitor technologies, but we chose Nordic solutions for a number of reasons including the hassle-free power management and best-in-class low power consumption especially in sleep mode and eDRX mode
Sriram Narayanaswamy, CEO at Tavago Tech
Tavago Tech uses Nordic nRF Cloud for assistance when acquiring GPS, cellular and Wi-Fi, location information from the nRF7000 and nRF9160, as well as during eDRX and firmware over-the-air (FOTA) development.  

“Tuff is easy to use, with a minimal learning curve – it doesn’t have a power switch, needless buttons, unnecessary hardware, or a time-consuming setup,” says Sriram Narayanaswamy, CEO at Tavago Tech.  

Common use cases for Tuff include tracking lost pets and loved ones, personal valuables and moving items, vehicles and high value cargo, or employees and visitors to a workplace for productivity and safety purposes. Tuff generates an alarm when the SOS button is pressed and can trigger emergency alerts for medical assistance when it detects a sudden fall or lack of movement. An associated web-based platform is offered to enterprises for asset tracking and people tracking, while an iOS/Android app is provided for consumer tracking via smartphones.  


Nordic nPM1100 PMIC improves power management 

Tuff uses a rechargeable Li-ion battery with 3.7V/1100 mAH capacity and integrates the Nordic nPM1100 Power Management IC (PMIC). The nPM1100 employs a highly efficient dual-mode configurable buck regulator and integrated battery charger – features that allowed it to replace Tavago Tech’s earlier two-chip solution. 

Some use cases for Tuff require a battery life of two weeks on quick polling, while others require a battery life of up to five years for 12-24 hours’ polling. This longevity is achieved thanks in part to the ultra low power characteristics of the Nordic solutions.  

“We considered competitor technologies, but we chose Nordic solutions for a number of reasons including the hassle-free power management and best-in-class low power consumption especially in sleep mode and eDRX mode, plus the miniature design with GNSS, NB-IoT, and Arm processor all built-in to one SiP,” says Narayanaswamy.  

“Nordic’s support has been excellent compared to any other companies we have worked with in the past. All the technical datasheets, reference designs, and recommendations are shared instantly. We deeply appreciate the support from sales and application engineers who have been working with us since the beginning.”