u-blox module aimed at indoor positioning

December 21, 2019  - By
Photo: u-blox

u-blox’s Bluetooth low-energy module features direction finding, bringing the benefits of high-precision positioning to indoor applications

U-blox, provider of positioning and wireless communication technologies, has announced the u-blox NINA-B4 Bluetooth low-energy module series. Based on Nordic Semiconductor’s recently announced nRF52833 chip, NINA-B4 enables a number of Bluetooth features including Bluetooth long range, Bluetooth mesh and Bluetooth direction finding.

The module is tailored to the needs of applications in the connected industry, smart homes, buildings and cities, asset tracking and eHealth.

The NINA-B4 offers a new direction-finding feature, a key component of the Bluetooth v5.1 specification that brings the benefits of high-precision positioning to indoor applications. It is the first u-blox module designed to act as both a transmitter and a receiver in angle of arrival (AoA) and angle of departure (AoD) direction finding and indoor positioning applications.

In AoA-based implementations, stationary beacons equipped with multi-antenna arrays determine the angle of arrival of signals emitted by a tracking device to pinpoint the tracker’s location with sub-meter-level accuracy. When AoD is used, the tracking device triangulates its position by calculating the angle of departure of signals from the stationary Bluetooth beacons’ multi-antenna arrays.

Mesh, long range, and extended temperature range

The u-blox NINA-B4 enables wireless mesh networks, which offer robust communication between large numbers of connected devices, extending the reach of messages by relaying them from node to node until they reach their destination. By simplifying the control of groups of devices, mesh networks are well suited for applications such as smart lighting systems in cities and buildings, which further benefit from the module’s enhanced operating temperature range (up to 105 °C).

Featuring Bluetooth long range, the NINA-B4 series can be deployed in harsh environments, for instance, to enable wirelessly connected and configurable equipment. Long range not only increases the distance that Bluetooth signals can travel in undisturbed environments, but also makes communications more robust and reliable in unfavorable ones, a common need in production plants or on factory floors.

The NINA-B4 series comes with u-blox u‑connect software, simplifying integration of Bluetooth into new and existing products by providing an easy-to-use interface to configure the connectivity required.

NINA-B4 has a powerful Arm Cortex-M4F MCU with an open CPU architecture, allowing customers to run their own applications on the module. Supporting Zigbee and Thread, the first members of the NINA-B4 family come with an internal PCB antenna, or alternatively with a U.FL connector for an external antenna of choice.

Samples of the NINA-B4 will be available in December.

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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.