Cloud Services

The IoT cloud services optimized for ultra-low power Nordic Semiconductor devices

Overview and Benefits

We ship more than a million wireless devices every day that are used in thousands of different products out in the market. Many of these devices need a cloud service to operate. It could be a service that monitors the condition of the device, its location or for firmware updates. With Nordic, you have the option of using our out-of-the-box supported cloud. We offer free evaluation and testing of nRF Cloud with Nordic Semiconductor hardware. Your other option is using another cloud provider and figuring out how to pair your wireless hardware to that cloud yourself. Trust us, the first option is easier.

nRF Cloud is a platform for cloud services optimized for our wireless devices. It offers out-of-the-box support for our devices, whether you have one device or thousands of devices. nRF Cloud is hosted by Nordic with 24/7 availability, maintenance and support. This is a huge advantage to have one provider for both hardware and cloud and one support portal. Operation and cost efficiency are key aspects for customers, which is why we have placed heightened focus on this. We provide an attractive business model, independent of number of devices connected. There are also no up-front costs for the cloud infrastructure.

Nordic has out-of-the-box support for nRF Cloud on the nRF9160 DK and Nordic Thingy:91, letting you easily test out asset tracking with GPS positioning and cloud functionality in a matter of minutes! That is cellular IoT made easy. Automatic secure on-boarding and easy integration to a customer's own app or 3rd party apps via the Device API simplify the development cycle.

Multi-image firmware over the air update (FOTA) bundles can easily be pushed to a group of devices or all devices, enabling simple device management.

Wireless Q Live

From Silicon to Cloud services

Watch the recording of our WQ live event hosted on September 9, where Svein-Egil Nielsen (CTO/EVP R&D and Strategy), Ville-Veikko Helppi (Product Manager Cloud Solution) and Chris Hansen (Director R&D, USA) discussed the critical role of Cloud-based asset tracking device management and support.

Why use location services?

Nordic Semiconductor is a pioneer in battery-operated, ultra-low power wireless SoCs. While we are most well known for our Bluetooth Low Energy offering, our best-in-class nRF9160 SiP shares the same ultra-low power DNA. By using this innovative SiP with nRF Cloud Location Services, you can extend the lifetime of your cellular IoT based products.

Location services are the cornerstone to power efficiently and accurately receive location data to power constrained devices that are battery powered. By utilizing our single-cell (SCELL), multi-cell (MCELL), assisted GPS (A-GPS) and/or predicted GPS (P-GPS) location features, your devices are guaranteed to last longer in the field, while sending accurate location data to the cloud.

 

 

What are location services?

nRF Cloud Location Services are a set of commercially available features that can be used to assist devices and customer applications that need fast and power-efficient location details. They are designed specifically for Nordic silicon to enable high performing and ultra-low power consuming product solution. It includes A-GPS, P-GPS, SCELL and MCELL location features.

GPS based

  

Regular GPS downloads assistance data via satellites (~50 bps). To speed things up, Nordic offers A-GPS and P-GPS which downloads the assistance data via LTE (~150 kbps). The data is provided in seconds instead of minutes via GPS.

A-GPS over LTE enables a download of new assistance data (e.g. ephemeris, almanac) via LTE. A quicker time-to-first-fix (TTFF) compared with regular GPS increases power savings.

P-GPS over LTE downloads a new asset plus up to two weeks of prediction data. The predictive assistance data can be valid up to 14 days. Some extra device processing helps provide valid assistance data available for periods without LTE coverage in remote areas. This useful feature also helps save on LTE costs vs cell-based location services.

Cell based

diagram

SCELL provides a power efficient option to locate the device and consumes little power from the device. This is highly beneficial for indoor location, no-power scenarios or crude-location without requiring GPS.

MCELL: The main difference vs single-cell is using multiple cell towers to triangulate the device location. Up to 17 cell towers can be used at once.

Furthermore, any IoT device manufacturer that builds products with a location information can enjoy the benefits of nRF Cloud Location Services.

    Location Services Comparison

    Location Feature Accuracy
     Power Savings
    Description/Benefits
     A-GPS
     High  Good
    • Gets assistance data over cellular connection and uses the GPS modem to obtain a fix.
    • Provides a few hours of assistance data to the device.
    • Enables a faster TTFF for the GPS modem between a hot and warm start.
     P-GPS
     High  Better
    • Similar to A-GPS, device downloads up to two weeks of predicted assistance data.
    • While it still uses the GPS modem, the power savings comes from reducing the frequency to request new assistance data.
    • Enables a faster TTFF for the GPS modem between a hot and warm start.
     SCELL
     Low  High
    • Gets coarse device location based off of nearest cell tower.
    • Does not use the GPS modem.
    • Saves power by eliminating the need to use GPS.
     MCELL
     Medium  High
    • Provides a higher level of accuracy compared with SCELL by using multiple cell towers to obtain location.
    • Does not use the GPS modem.
    • Saves power by eliminating the need to use GPS.

    Benefits and use cases

    The benefits of location services combined with rich IoT device management capabilities are as follows:

    • Know where your assets are and manage those remotely.
    • Designed for low-power consumption but scales across to rich nodes.
    • Scalability and easy integration with the back-end applications and use cases.

     

    The nRF Cloud Location Services provide a comprehensive end-to-end solution:

    • Provides optimized assistance data for TTFF when using GPS. Applies for indoor and outdoor use.
    • Approximate location data based on SCELL and MCELL. This is a highly useful feature for further decisions if more accurate tracking is needed to start. This feature can easily be used in e.g. asset tracking and supply-chain tracking to get an accurate enough position when the asset is being transported. When the asset is almost at the destination, A-GPS and/or P-GPS can be activated to enable higher precision accuracy.
    • Seamless connectivity, management of devices and integration of location data. Smart appliances can utilize location data for diagnostics reporting to solve and inform operational, warranty or support problems and infrastructure.
    • Ultra-low power consumption and optimized data usage. This is ideal for applications such as smart wearables, which have a limited battery capacity. Devices can quickly and power-efficiently be tracked accurately anywhere in the world.