u-blox has launched two “explorer kits” aimed at letting product developers evaluate the potential of Bluetooth direction finding and high precision indoor positioning.
Designed for low power consumption, simple deployment, and low cost of ownership, the u-blox XPLR-AOA-1 and XPLR-AOA-2 explorer kits make it easy to test the technology’s capabilities to enable a variety of applications including access control, collision detection, smart appliances, indoor positioning, and asset tracking.
“We see huge potential for global Bluetooth ecosystem to finally deliver a low power, high precision solution for locating people and things indoors,” says Erik Carlberg, Senior Product Manager, Product Center Short Range, at u-blox. “We look forward to engaging with early adopters of the technology and fine-tuning our solution, expanding the positioning expertise of u-blox into the indoor environment.”
Bluetooth direction-finding makes it possible to determine the direction that radio signals travel from a mobile tag to one or several fixed anchor points. Using angle-of-arrival (AoA) technology, anchor points comprising an antenna array that is connected to a Bluetooth receiver can detect the direction, or angle, to the mobile tag, which transmits a Bluetooth signal. When a constellation of such multi-antenna anchors is deployed, AoA technology can be used to triangulate the precise location of a mobile device or tag.
Both explorer kits use the u-blox NINA-B4 Bluetooth 5.1 low energy module featuring Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52833 Bluetooth® Low Energy System-on-Chip (SoC). Running on the SoC’s embedded MCU, u-blox u-connectLocate software calculates the angles of the incoming signals with no additional processing required. In the case of the XPLR-AOA-2, a positioning engine software is included to triangulate the position of the tag.
To provide a great experience for the end-user, u-blox is partnering with Traxmate, whose enterprise asset tracking platform is supported by XPLR-AOA-2. This solution offers a hardware-agnostic, cloud-based tracking system that makes it easier to set up the tracking environment, create buildings, upload floor plans, and specify the placement of the anchor points.
Users can use their offering to track the location of assets in real-time via the web or a dedicated smartphone app.