Development Kit Rolls for Cellular LTE-M Smart Modem

Digi International has announced the availability of the Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M development kits, featuring Digi’s next-generation smart cellular modem. This LTE-M certification, to be followed by the certification of Digi XBee3 Cellular NB-IoT in October 2018, allows Digi to claim having one of the first LPWA, software-defined technology-agile modems capable of offering Cat-M or NB-IoT on a single, compact footprint. Designed to be configurable, developers can easily standardize and future-proof their IoT designs by simply changing modems and SIMs to leverage different wireless protocols without having to redesign hardware for different regions or applications.
The new Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M smart modem is integrated into the development kit via a 20-pin Digi XBee socket, ultimately allowing for solution connectivity via millions of sockets already deployed around the globe. The module can also be easily configured and controlled from a centralized platform such as the Digi Remote Manager..

Digi International is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN),  and the Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M is a smart cellular modem supported by AWS IoT Core. With built-in Digi TrustFence security, the module’s identity and data privacy features use more than 175 controls to protect against new and evolving cyber threats. It also provides the tools to secure connected devices, including data in motion with TLS 1.2 encryption and bi-directional authentication, required for AWS IoT connectivity.

Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M Smart Modem Capabilities

  • FCC certified and carrier end-device certified
  • Integrated MicroPython programmability
  • Up to 180 days of free cellular service with development kits*
  • Excellent coverage and building penetration
  • Low power consumption optimized for long battery life
  • Direct USB provides easy PPP integration option
  • Enhanced with Digi TrustFence security framework
  • Manage and configure with XCTU and Digi Remote Manager
  • Digi XBee Transparent and API modes simplify design
  • Reduced hardware complexity with only one antenna required
  • Development Kit Availability

The Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M smart modem development kit is now available for evaluation and testing. The kit includes one Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M embedded modem, one XBee3 development board, one active SIM, up to six months of free cellular service*, antennas and power supply, and Digi’s full library of documentation and examples.

Digi International | www.digi.com

Cloud-based Eval Service for Nordic BLE SoC-Based Designs

Nordic Semiconductor has launched “nRF Connect for Cloud”, a free service for Cloud-based evaluation, test, and verification of Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) designs employing Nordic’s nRF51 and nRF52 Series multiprotocol Bluetooth LE SoCs. nRF Connect for Cloud features an intuitive workflow and offers much of the functionality of Nordic’s “nRF Connect for Desktop” and “nRF Connect for Mobile” which are popular applications used for building and developing Bluetooth LE products. nRF Connect for Cloud also supports an extensive range of standard Bluetooth services together with proprietary services such as nRF UART.
Operating with all popular browsers, nRF Connect for Cloud uses web Bluetooth application programming interfaces (APIs) to push and extract data to and from the Cloud, enabling the developer to test and modify the behavior and performance of prototypes. By using the front-end and visualization features of nRF Connect for Cloud, historical data can be extracted from databases and analyzed in a browser. The product also allows engineers to monitor and interact with remote wireless IoT designs enabling the collaboration of geographically separate development teams on a single project.

nRF Connect for Cloud is supported by the nRF Gateway App available for iOS and Android-powered mobile devices. The nRF Gateway App enables Nordic Bluetooth LE devices to use a smartphone-enabled Internet gateway to convert Bluetooth LE messages to ReST/MQTT/IP protocols for Cloud interoperability.

The Gateway App communicates with the nRF Connect for Cloud back-end hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is based on Software as a Service (SaaS) components. By leveraging AWS industry-grade components, the app implements end-to-end data and device connectivity, guarantees reliability, and scales from a few to hundreds of Bluetooth LE devices.

nRF Connect for Cloud currently supports Bluetooth LE solutions but future versions will also support Nordic’s nRF91 Series low power, global multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT System-in-Package (SiP) for cellular IoT.

nRF Connect for Cloud works out-of-the-box with the Nordic Thingy:52 IoT Sensor Kit, Nordic nRF5 development kit (DK), and software development kit (SDK) examples. A quick-start guide is available from www.nrfcloud.com.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

Wireless Standards and Solutions for IoT

Protocol Choices Abound

One of the critical enabling technologies making the Internet-of-Things possible is the set of well-established wireless standards that allow movement of data to and from low-power edge devices. These standards are being implemented in a variety of chip- and module-based solutions.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Connecting the various nodes of an IoT implementation can involve a number of wired and wireless network technologies. It’s rare that an IoT system can be completely hardwired end to end. That means most IoT systems of any large scale depend on a variety of wireless technologies including everything from device-level technologies to Wi-Fi to cellular networking.

IoT system developers have a rich set of wireless standards to choose from. And these can be implemented from the gateway and the device side using a variety of wireless IoT solutions in both module and chip form. Some of these are available from the leading microcontroller vendors, but a growing number are IoT-specialist chip and module vendors. Many of today’s solutions combine multiple protocols on the same device, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE (BLE) for example. We’ll look at each of the major wireless standards appropriate to IoT, along with representative interface solutions for each.

LoRaWAN

Managed by the LoRa Alliance, the LoRaWAN specification is a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery operated ‘things’ to the internet in regional, national or global networks. It meets key IoT requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility and localization services.

The networking architecture of LoRaWAN is deployed in a star-of-stars topology in which gateways relay messages between end devices and a central network server. Gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections and act as a transparent bridge, simply converting RF packets to IP packets and vice versa. The wireless communication takes advantage of the Long Range characteristics of the LoRa physical layer, allowing a single-hop link between the end-device and one or many gateways. All modes are capable of bi-directional communication, and support is included for multicast addressing groups to make efficient use of spectrum during tasks such as Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) upgrades or other mass distribution messages.

In a recent LoRaWAN product example, Cypress Semiconductor in June announced its teaming up with Semtech on a compact, two-chip LoRaWAN-based module deployed by Onethinx. The highly-integrated Onethinx module is well-suited for smart city applications that integrate multiple sensors and are in harsh radio environments (Figure 1). Using Cypress’ PSoC 6 MCU hardware-based Secure Element functionality and Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology), the solution enables a multi-layer security architecture that isolates trust anchors for highly protected device-to-cloud connectivity. In addition, the PSoC 6 MCU’s integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity provides a simple, low-power, out-of-band control channel. Cypress claims the PSoC 6 device as the industry’s lowest power, most flexible Arm Cortex-M dual-core MCU with a power slope as low as 22-μA/MHz active power for the Cortex-M4 core. The device works well with Semtech’s latest LoRa radio chip family, which offers 50% power savings in receive mode and 20% longer range over previous-generation devices.

Figure 1
Using Cypress’ PSoC 6 MCU hardware-based Secure Element functionality and Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology), the Onethinx module enables a multi-layer security architecture that isolates trust anchors for highly protected device-to-cloud connectivity.

The Onethinx module uses the integrated Secure Element functionality in the PSoC 6 MCU to give each LoRaWAN-based device a secret identity to securely boot and deliver data to the cloud application. Using its mutual authentication capabilities, the PSoC 6 MCU-based, LoRa-equipped device can also receive authenticated over-the-air firmware updates. Key provisioning and management services are provided by IoT security provider and member of the Bosch group, ESCRYPT, for a complete end-to-end, secure LoRaWAN solution. The module, offered by Cypress partner Onethinx, connects to Bosch Sensortec’s Cross Domain Development Kit (XDK) for Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors and to the provisioning system from ESCRYPT to securely connect.

Wi-Fi (802.11)

In systems where power is less of a constraint, the ubiquitous standard
Wi-Fi 802.11 is also a good method of IoT connectivity—whether leveraging off of existing Wi-Fi infrastructures or just using Wi-Fi hubs and routers in a purposed-built network implementation. As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi is often available integrated with other wireless protocols such as Bluetooth. …

Read the full article in the July 336 issue of Circuit Cellar

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LTE Cat M1, NB-IoT Module Provides 2G Fallback

U‑blox has announced the SARA‑R412M, an LTE Cat M1, NB‑IoT, and quad‑band 2G (EGPRS) module with worldwide coverage. Measuring just 16 x 26 mm, the module is the world’s smallest to provide both LTE and quad‑band EGPRS support in a single design. The flexibility extends further with dynamic system selection as Cat M1, NB‑IoT, and EGPRS in single mode or as a preferred connection that does not require a module reboot to switch between modes. It brings a rich feature suite optimized for LPWA (low‑power wide‑area) IoT applications that require the assurance of 2G connectivity to guarantee broad geographic coverage, even in areas where LTE Cat M1 and NB‑IoT are not widely available yet. New IoT devices deployed in the field today can activate on existing 2G networks and still leverage the benefits of LTE Cat M1 and NB‑IoT technology once it becomes available.

The SARA‑R4 series covers a whole host of IoT applications, especially those reliant on long‑term, low power use or requiring connectivity deep within buildings. Examples include gas, water, and electricity metering, city street lighting, building automation, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), industrial monitoring and control, telematics, insurance, asset and vehicle tracking, security systems, alarm panels, outpatient monitoring, and many consumer wearables.

SARA‑R412M enables global solutions based on a single hardware version, allowing developers to select their own desired frequencies and operator configurations. SARA‑R412M ensures data integrity between applications via secure communication protocols, notably including two‑way authentication between client and server, a strategy often used with cloud services.

Critical firmware updates can be delivered with the u‑blox proprietary uFOTA (firmware over the air) client/server solution that uses LWM2M, a light and compact protocol that is ideal for IoT applications. This allows end‑users to continue using the same hardware when features and functionalities are updated, making it well‑suited for critical applications running on devices that may be deployed in the field over long periods of time.

SARA‑R412M provides an extended temperature range of -40 to +85°C, and supports Power Save Mode (PSM) and Extended Discontinuous Reception (e‑DRX) for LTE Cat M1 and NB‑IoT connectivity, which can extend battery lifetime for up to 10 years.

3GPP Coverage Enhancement allows the module’s Cat M1 connectivity to reach deeper into buildings and basements, and even underground with NB‑IoT when compared to other air interface technologies such as GSM or Cat 1.

U‑blox | www.u‑blox.com

Keysight and Sequans Team for IoT Deployment Test Offering

Keysight Technologies has announced an agreement with Sequans Communications whereby Keysight will use Sequans’ Monarch LTE for IoT chip platform to provide support for NB-IoT and LTE-M customers using Keysight’s E7515A UXM wireless test set (shown). The integration assures customers that they have their test needs covered for IoT deployments and are in compliance with 3GPP standards. Keysight and Sequans are developing products and solutions that are tailored for the IoT ecosystem and the companies are now working closely together to accelerate the deployment of IoT technologies in the industry.

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The combined solution addresses users’ deployment test needs and ensures compliance with 3GPP standards. Keysight’s UXM Wireless Test Set integrated with Sequans’ Monarch LTE for IoT platform supports testing needs of NarrowBand-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) and enhanced Machine-Type Communication (eMTC) Cat-M1 customers. Keysight is testing for 3GPP RF/RRM compliance for NB-IoT and Cat-M1 using the Sequans Monarch chip.

Keysight Technologies | www.keysight.com

Sequans Communications | www.sequans.com

Chip Antennas for the New NB-IoT Standard

Antenova Ltd recently announced a new Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) standard.The compact 20 × 11 × 1.6 mm antenna is easy to integrate onto a small PCB.SR4C033The Latona SR4C033  chip antenna is a member of Antenova’s lamiiANT antenna family. The embedded NB-IoT antennas are designed to be easily integrated onto a host PCB for a wide variety of IoT projects.

Source: Antenova