u-blox Explorer Kit Evaluates and Validates IoT Applications - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

u-blox Explorer Kit Evaluates and Validates IoT Applications

u-blox recently introduced the u-blox XPLR-IOT-1 IoT explorer kit, an all-in-one package developed to evaluate and validate IoT applications.

As IoT devices become more complex, they often require satellite-based positioning as well as Bluetooth low energy, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, according to a news release. As such, LTE-M is raising the importance of prototyping and validating ideas before bringing them to production—driving demand for multifunctional application boards like this over evaluation kit (EVK) to test a product’s entire feature set.

The XPLR-IOT-1 prototypes low-power IoT use cases such as logistics container trackers, industrial automation, sensor-to-cloud applications, and fleet management solutions. The board’s u-blox NORA-B106 Bluetooth LE 5.2 radio module doubles as its main MCU, hosting the application software and controlling the other modules. These include a u-blox SARA-R510S for LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular connectivity with built in cloud security, as well as a u-blox NINA-W156 for 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.

The board features an ultra-low-power MAX-M10S positioning module that can concurrently track four global navigation satellite system (GNSS) constellations to deliver reliable location data wherever GNSS coverage is available.

Tracking applications with the most stringent power requirements, such as freight container trackers, can leverage four times longer battery life with u-blox’s positioning in cloud service, CloudLocate, while the CellLocate mobile-network-based location service extends tracking beyond the reach of GNSS signals.

The NORA-B106’s Arm® Cortex® M33 MCU runs the application software. Clocked at 128 MHz, with 1 MB of embedded flash and 512 kB of RAM, and 8 MB of external flash memory, it offers “a solid foundation for the development of highly capable solutions.” An integrated antenna for all featured technologies, a USB interface and USB charging, a Sparkfun Qwiic I2C connector, and a debug interface all contribute to a smooth product development process.

A trial of MQTT Anywhere, which delivers ultra-low power by communicating data between the device and the enterprise using the MQTT-SN (MQTT for sensor networks) protocol, is included with the kit.

Developers working with XPLR-IOT-1 can use code from u-blox’s ubxlib GitHub repository, a library of software examples for key use cases, to speed up prototyping for solutions such as wireless sensor networks, indoor and outdoor tracking, and industrial or smart building gateways.

Because all hardware design files, software, smartphone app, and online dashboard source code are shared, the XPLR-IOT-1 can also serve as a starting point for commercial end-product design.

“The XPLR-IOT-1 is fully geared toward rapid development, testing and validation of IoT solutions,” said Pelle Svensson, senior principal, product strategy short range radio, according to the release. “Offering a single platform to develop a variety of IoT use cases, the versatile explorer kit reduces the expertise required for hardware, software and service integration and code development.”