Monday, February 26, 2024

Wi-Fi IC Enhances Location Accuracy And Efficiency

By Nidhi Agarwal

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A location solution combines Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS for accuracy and efficiency, facilitating IoT development with simplified updates and a compact design.

N7000

With the introduction of the nRF7000 Wi-Fi companion IC, Nordic Semiconductor now offers a ]location solution that includes Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS. This solution streamlines the development of Wi-Fi-based locationing applications.

The nRF7000 IC is a Wi-Fi 6 chip for scanning Wi-Fi networks on 2.4- and 5 GHz bands. Combined with nRF91 Series cellular IoT System-in-Package, it enables SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing. This method provides location fixes indoors and outdoors, useful in areas with weak GNSS signals.

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The IC focuses on Wi-Fi SSID scanning without supporting Wi-Fi data communication. This specialization balances power consumption with location accuracy for Wi-Fi locationing capabilities.

The SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution uses an IC for Wi-Fi scanning and a System-in-Package for cellular communication to a cloud service. This method scans signals from nearby Wi-Fi access points to determine a tracker’s location, offering an accuracy level between cellular-based and GNSS methods. It is more power-efficient than GNSS and comparable in efficiency to cellular-based locationing.

The SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution is complemented by a unified software development environment, facilitating software updates. This environment, used with cloud services, allows for easy over-the-air application, middleware, and modem firmware updates, ensuring a secure and reliable update process.

Combining the nRF9160 System-in-Package and nRF7000 IC creates a compact and power-efficient solution for Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS locationing. To assist developers in creating IoT end-products with this technology, an Evaluation Kit (EK) has been launched. This kit, designed in an Arduino shield form factor, can be seamlessly integrated with a Development Kit (DK) for practical development and testing.

“The launch of the nRF7000 IC makes the Nordic SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution best-in-class,” explains Finn Boetius, Product Marketing Engineer at Nordic Semiconductor. “Competing solutions tend to use general-purpose Wi-Fi ICs for Wi-Fi locationing. These are usually oversized and not optimized for this specific use case. This makes them both more expensive and more power-hungry. 

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