Interfacing with the Internet-of-Things (IoT) calls for highly integrated modular solutions that marry wireless connectivity and right-sized processing. The latest crop of IoT interface modules add new features such as multi-protocol support, security features and position tracking technology.
The Internet-of-Things remains full of opportunities, as organizations large and small work to develop IoT implementations across a wide range of market segments. Edge technology for the IoT requires several elements. First, it includes a combination of embedded processors and microcontrollers that provide intelligence. It also includes various wireless, cellular and other connectivity solutions to connect to the network. And, finally, it includes sensors to collect data from a multitude of IoT edge nodes.
Over the past 12 months, vendors have rolled out an interesting mix of module-based products aimed directly at IoT. These IoT products combine intelligence and connectivity, while also taking on the vital certifications needed to get IoT implementations up and running. Other emerging features in the latest IoT modules include advanced security and position tracking technologies like GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver technology. The product album in this month’s Product Focus provides a representative look at some of these modules.
An example application that makes good use of IoT technology is smart lighting (Figure 1). Espressif actually offers a solution for smart lighting called ESP Mesh. ESP Mesh is a wireless communications network consisting of nodes that distribute data amongst each other.
Espressif’s ESP-MESH lighting solution contributes to saving a lot of energy. It is built around the ESP32-MeshKit, which is based on Espressif’s ESP32 chip. In this smart lighting solution, ESP32-MeshKit-Lights can be used only whenever necessary, since they can be controlled remotely with a mobile app or a timer, a button (ESP32-MeshKit-Button), a lighting sensor or even a passive infrared (PIR) detector which is embedded in the newest development board ESP32-MeshKit-PIR. The PIR makes the lights turn on automatically, when someone enters the room, or turn off when the room becomes empty.
Module Supports Bluetooth 5, Zigbee and Thread
Rigado’s Bluetooth 5 (BLE), Zigbee and Thread (IEEE 802.15.4) modular solution, the BMD-340 is an advanced, highly flexible, ultra-low power multiprotocol SoM for portable, extremely low power embedded systems. With an Arm Cortex M4F CPU, integrated 2.4 GHz transceiver and an integrated antenna, the BMD- 340 provides a complete RF solution allowing faster time to market with reduced development costs.
• Complete Bluetooth 5.0 and Thread (802.15.4) solution
• 64MHz 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4F CPU with 1 MB Flash & 256 KB RAM
• USB 2.0 and built in DC/DC converter for direct USB / Li-Ion power
• Transmitter certifications: FCC (USA), IC (Canada), MIC (Japan)
• Transmitter compliance: CE (Europe), RCM (Australia / New Zealand)
• Bluetooth qualified & Threadcompliant
• Sub-footprint compatible with BMD- 300/301 (Nordic nRF52832)
• Dimensions: 10.2 mm x 15.0 mm x 1.9 mm
LoRa Transceivers Provide Scalable Wireless Remote Monitoring
Device Solutions’ Cellio LoRa longrange low-power wireless transceivers offer a solution for wide area, long range, end-to-end monitoring and control. Cellio is suited for single locations as well extensive enterprise configurations where there may be upwards of millions of sensors and controls connected to equipment across the continent.
• 915 MHz LoRa wireless technology
• Internal wireless antenna operates greater than 1 mile Line-of-Sight
• 4-5 years of operation on single 9 VDC lithium battery
• Support for 4-20 mA sensors
• Real time alert/fault detection and notifications
• Waterproof and dustproof enclosure (IP68)
• 1-wire sensor support
RF Modules Feature Micro Form Factor
Digi’s XBee3 series of nextgeneration RF modules and cellular modems includes a micro form factor option. Included in its micro size, Digi XBee3 also offers MicroPython programmability and dual-mode radios capable of providing RF connectivity for short range and Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) applications.
• 13 mm x 19 mm form factor
• One module for all protocols including: Zigbee, 802.15.4, DigiMesh and BLE
• Eliminates the need for an external MCU
• Create smart end nodes and low-end gateways using MicroPython
• Intrinsic IoT security with Digi TrustFence
IoT Modules Offer Sigfox Support and BLE
Jorjin Technologies’ WS2116-A0
module is powered by the dual-radio
solution from ST Microelectronics
based on the S2-LP ultra-low-power
long-range LPWAN transceiver and
the BlueNRG-2 Bluetooth low energy
SoC. The chipset combination offers
optimal RF performances, sleep mode,
longer battery lifetime, generous flash
memory up to 256 KB and 24 KB of
ultra-low-leakage SRAM and a featured
set of I/O peripherals.
• ST Micro BlueNRG-2 + S2-LP chipset
• Sigfox RC1 to 6
• 865 MHz to 923 MHz
• BLE up to +8 dBm output power
• Sub1G up to +24dBm output power
• Interface: UART, I2C, SPI
• Size: 22.0 mm x 22.0 mm x 2.8 mm
• -40°C to +85°C
• Certification: in progress
Module Boasts 8 M of Pseudo SRAM
The ESP32-WROVER-B from Espressif Systems is an IoT module that comes in two versions—one with a PCB antenna and one with an IPEX connector. The module has a 4 MB external SPI flash and an additional 8 MB SPI Pseudo Static RAM (PSRAM). This marks a big improvement over the company’s previous ESP32-WROVER and ESP32-WROVER-I products.
• PCB antenna and IPEX connector versions
• 4 MB external SPI flash; 8 MB SPI PSRAM
• 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and BLE
• Includes dual-core ESP32-D0WD chip
• ESP32 integrates several sensors and peripherals
• Supports FreeRTOS with LwIP
Wi-Fi-Enabled IoT Module Has NXP LPC54018 MCU
The LPC54018 IoT module, developed by NXP Semiconductor in partnership with Embedded Artists, is a self-contained, high performance, IEEE802.11 enabled microcontroller module for development of products based on the LPC540xx MCU family. It can be used standalone or plugged into a motherboard/baseboard for rapid product development and prototyping.
• LPC54018 MCUs with advanced peripherals based on Arm Cortex-M4 core, running at 180 MHz
• High-speed device USB port
• Longsys GT1216 Wi-Fi module based on Qualcomm QCA4004
• 128 MB Macronix serial NOR flash
• Dual expansion connectors
• Reset switch
• CE and FCC Certified
• Supported by MCUXpresso Eclipsebased IDE and GNU C/C++ toolchain
BLE Module Embeds Arm Cortex Processor
InnoComm BM20 module is based on Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52832 Bluetooth Low-Energy (Bluetooth LE) SoC. It features an Arm Cortex-M4 32- bit processor with FPU, 64 MHz. Target applications include smart buildings, smart homes, CE remote control, health and medical, wearables and more.
• Bluetooth 5 - Nordic nRF52832
• 32-bit Arm Cortex- M4F CPU, 64 MHz
• 512 KB internal flash, 64 KB internal RAM
• 2.4 GHz transceiver
• Supports data rates: 1 Mbps, 2 Mbps
• SPI/I2C master/slave interface
Module Integrates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE 5.0
The WL865E4-P from Telit is a fully integrated dual band, dual mode, combo Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) / Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5.0 module. The module is based on an integrated tri-core system-on-chip, with dedicated CPUs for IoT application, Wi-Fi and BLE. The IoT application processor runs on Arm Cortex-M4F at 128 MHz with 300 KB of dedicated SRAM.
• Dual band (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz) Wi-Fi module
• Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE5) qualified
• Low Power consumption
• Dedicated CPU (Cortex-M4) for IoT applications
• Wide range of peripherals
• Advanced security features with integrated crypto hardware
• Industrial grade temperature range
5G-Ready Module Provides Advanced Security
The SARA-R5 from U-blox is a series of LTE-M and NB-IoT modules for low power wide area (LPWA) IoT applications. The module, built on the U-blox UBX-R5 cellular chipset and the U-blox M8 GNSS receiver chip, offers end-to-end security and long product availability, making it well suited for IoT applications with long-term device deployments.
• LTE-M and NB-IoT versions
• U-blox UBX-R5 cellular chipset
• U-blox M8 GNSS receiver chip
• 3GPP Release 14 support and 5G ready
• Dedicated GNSS antenna interface
• Draw less than 1 μA in power mode
• EAL5+ High common criteria certification
Jeff served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxGizmos.com and its sister publication, Circuit Cellar magazine 6/2017—3/2022. In nearly three decades of covering the embedded electronics and computing industry, Jeff has also held senior editorial positions at EE Times, Computer Design, Electronic Design, Embedded Systems Development, and COTS Journal. His knowledge spans a broad range of electronics and computing topics, including CPUs, MCUs, memory, storage, graphics, power supplies, software development, and real-time OSes.