Saturday, May 18, 2024

Enhanced Cellular IoT With New Cloud Location Services

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It enables support for fleets of cellular IoT devices, including cellular network and assisted & predicted GPS location services

Nordic Semiconductor has launched its ‘nRF Cloud Location Services’. The Cloud-based product enables customers to access detailed, fast and accurate commercial location services for their nRF9160 System-in-Package (SiP)-powered cellular IoT devices.

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nRF Cloud Location Services builds upon Nordic’s versatile cellular IoT connectivity enabler, ‘nRF Cloud’. nRF Cloud Location Services will enable Nordic customers to access a full commercial location services model once their nRF9160 SiP-powered cellular IoT products are deployed. nRF Cloud will offer those same customers firmware over-the-air (FOTA) updates for devices in the field. 

Cell and GPS Location Services 

The nRF Cloud Location Services offering will initially comprise location services using ‘single-’ and ‘multi-cell’ location, and Assisted- and Predicted-GPS for indoor and outdoor applications. 

The single-cell method relies on identifying in which cell the tracked device is situated and then referencing the cell identification against a database of known base station geographical locations. It offers accuracy down to kilometre level while extending battery life because it does not require the operation of the GPS modem. Multi-cell location builds on the single-cell technique by referencing the position of several nearby base stations to offer accuracy down to several hundred meters while still keeping power consumption very low. 

GPS offers even greater location accuracy (down to tens of metres). However, when using a cellular IoT device, a cold-start GPS modem time-to-first-fix (TTFF) on a group of satellites can take minutes and use significant battery capacity. Assisted-GPS provides near-future satellite location data to the IoT device through the cellular connection before the GPS modem is switched on. A typical result is a reduction in TTFF down to 5 seconds, helping extend battery life. The Predicted-GPS technique builds on Assisted-GPS by providing over two weeks of predicted assistance satellite data to the device. The result is a short TTFF and accurate location determination but with even greater power savings because of the lower frequency of assistance data requests to the cellular network by the IoT device compared with Assisted-GPS.

Working with partners 

Nordic is partnering with multiple third parties to ensure a high-quality service for Nordic devices and nRF Cloud customers. These partners will provide GPS assistance data and an inexpensive and easy-to-access location history with timestamp information for each of the customer’s IoT devices. The product can also be interfaced with customers’ applications and Cloud-presence via a user-friendly REST API as well as integration with third-party applications.

“With its short-range and cellular IoT products and development tools, Nordic has made access to the IoT much easier and simpler for all. nRF Cloud Location Services and nRF Cloud will extend that strategy to the configuration, management and maintenance of fleets of cellular IoT devices,” says Ville-Veikko Helppi, Product Manager – Cloud Solutions with Nordic Semiconductor. 

“Customers are increasingly looking to Nordic, as a supplier they trust, to provide a simple and convenient way to manage cellular IoT devices in the field. nRF Cloud takes away all the hassle of setting up with an untried Cloud services provider and allows the customer to choose only the service they need. And by building on the established nRF Cloud platform, nRF Cloud Location Services offers Nordic customers the familiar Nordic ‘look and feel’ but now with the high-quality and long-term commercial support needed to deploy large numbers of cellular IoT devices.” 


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