Nordic Semiconductor today announces that IoTBank, a Tokyo, Japan-based technology company, is using Nordic’s nRF9160 low power System-in-Package (SiP) with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GPS in its ‘Mamosearch 2’ tracker and gateway devices. The gateway also features Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC).
Mamosearch 2 is an attachable and portable tracking device primarily designed for monitoring the location of dependent/at-risk individuals, for example children on the way to or from school, elderly family members living alone, or residents at aged care facilities. The device is also designed for tracking industrial and commercial assets.
Enabled by the nRF9160 SiP’s LTE-M connectivity and GPS—complemented by built-in Wi-Fi triangulation capability for accurate positioning without requiring GPS—the tracker periodically transmits the whereabouts of the tracked item to a proprietary Cloud-based platform and dashboard via the cell network. This in turn enables remote monitoring via an iOS and Android ‘Mamosearch’ app on a consumer or asset manager’s Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphone.
The nRF9160 SiP’s 64 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 processor provides sufficient computational power to not only run the LTE-M cellular connectivity but also all other product functionality. The 1MB Flash and 256KB RAM supports fast response and complex application software. The Mamosearch 2 tracker takes advantage of the nRF9160’s compact dimensions (10 by 16 by 1mm) to incorporate the SiP, a Wi-Fi chipset, battery, and Wi-Fi and cellular antennas into a device measuring just 45 by 45 by 15mm and weighing 36gm. The tracker achieves battery life of approximately one month under normal use or three months of standby time on a single charge, thanks in part to the ultra low power characteristics of the Nordic SiP.
The Mamosearch 2 gateway—which in addition to the nRF9160 SiP also integrates Nordic’s nRF52832 SoC, providing Bluetooth LE connectivity—supports commercial/industrial asset tracking applications, for example managing the location of materials in a factory or warehouse, or on a construction site. The Bluetooth LE functionality means any Bluetooth beacon can notify the gateway of its position. (Bluetooth beacons are widely used around the world to provide a reliable method for determining the fixed location of an asset.) The location data from the beacon can be relayed to the Cloud using the nRF9160’s support for LTE-M cellular connectivity, allowing management to track multiple assets simultaneously from the companion app.
The nRF9160 SiP is certified for global cellular IoT applications, comprising a dedicated application processor and memory, multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem with integrated RF front end (RFFE), GPS, and power management in a compact package. The SiP incorporates the Arm M33 processor, Flash and RAM, a range of analog and digital peripherals, automated power and clock management, Arm TrustZone® for trusted execution, and Arm CryptoCell™ 310 for application layer security. The processor communicates with the LTE modem through a BSD secure sockets API and supports the application layer protocol (for example CoAP, MQTT or LWM2M) and the application itself. The nRF9160 SiP’s LTE modem supports both SIM and eSIM, offers 700 to 2200 MHz LTE band support, 23 dBm output power, and single pin 50 Ω antenna- and UICC-interfaces. The LTE stack layers L1-L3, IPv4/IPv6, TCP/UDP, TLS/DTLS are part of the modem firmware.
Related products include the nRF9160 DK, a pre-certified single board development kit and the nRF Connect SDK, a software development kit which includes application layer protocols, application examples, and LTE modem firmware offered as pre-certified and precompiled downloads.
Nordic’s nRF52832 multiprotocol SoC features a powerful 64MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex M4 processor with floating point unit (FPU), 2.4GHz radio featuring -96-dBm RX sensitivity and a total link budget of >100dBm, and generous 512kB Flash memory plus 64kB RAM.
“We selected Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP for the Mamosearch 2 tracker and gateway largely due to its low power consumption, while Nordic’s nRF52832 SoC was used in the gateway because the chip provides for stable network communication,” says Mr Kyoku, CEO of IoTBank.
“The great technical support provided by Nordic’s engineers played a key role during the product development phase, which helped speed up the time to market.”