u-blox releases full-featured platform to test and validate IoT solutions

u-blox, the global provider of positioning and wireless communication technologies and services, has announced the u-blox XPLR-IOT-1 IoT explorer kit, an all-in-one package to test, evaluate and validate IoT applications. Integrating all relevant u-blox technologies and services into a capable prototyping platform with a vast selection of sensors and interfaces as well as cloud connectivity, XPLR-IOT-1 is said to make it easier than ever to explore the potential of IoT applications.

The increasing complexity of IoT devices, which often require satellite-based positioning, Bluetooth low energy, Wi-Fi, and cellular connectivity via, for example, LTE-M is raising the importance of prototyping and validating ideas before bringing them to production. This trend is driving demand for multifunctional application boards like the u-blox XPLR-IOT-1 over evaluation kits (EVKs), intended to comprehensively test a product’s entire feature set.

A highly capable prototyping platform
The XPLR-IOT-1 gives users everything they need to prototype 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 also hosts an ultra-low-power MAX-M10S positioning module capable of concurrently tracking four global navigation satellite system (GNSS) constellations, delivering highly reliable location data wherever GNSS coverage is available.

The hardware is complemented by a broad selection of sensors commonly used in IoT applications, including accelerometers and gyroscopes, a magnetometer, and temperature, humidity, pressure, and ambient light sensors. A power-on switch, LEDs, and user buttons make it easy for users to interact with the device.

The NORA-B106’s powerful Arm Cortex M33 MCU is solely dedicated to running 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. And integrated antennas 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 experience.

Native support for u-blox services
The XPLR-IOT-1 offers engineers an easy way to start working with u-blox’s services offering. Included with the kit is 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.

Tracking applications with the most stringent power requirements such as freight container trackers can realize 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.

A starting point for commercial end-products
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 the prototyping of solutions, which can range from wireless sensor networks to indoor and outdoor tracking solutions to 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 towards rapid development, testing, and validation of IoT solutions. 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,” says Pelle Svensson, senior principal, Product Strategy Short Range Radio, at u-blox.
Once launched in June 2022, the XPLR-IOT-1 will initially be sold via Digi-Key.

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