u-blox Releases Platform to Test and Validate IoT Solutions

By Taryn Engmark

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

June 02, 2022


u-blox Releases Platform to Test and Validate IoT Solutions

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 over evaluation kits (EVKs), intended to comprehensively test a product’s entire feature set.

u-blox, a provider of positioning and wireless communication technologies and services, announced the u-blox XPLR-IOT-1 IoT explorer kit, an all-in-one package to test, evaluate, and validate IoT applications. XPLR-IOT-1 is a prototyping platform integrated with u-blox technologies and services that includes a range of sensors and interfaces, as well as cloud connectivity.

A Prototyping Platform

The XPLR-IOT-1 includes various features needed 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 reliable location data wherever GNSS coverage is available.

The hardware is complemented by a selection of sensors commonly used in IoT applications, including accelerometers and gyroscopes, a magnetometer, and temperature, humidity, pressure, and ambient light sensors. It also includes a power-on switch, LEDs, and user buttons.

The NORA-B106’s Arm® Cortex® M33 MCU is solely dedicated to running the application software. Clocked at 128 MHz with 1 MB of embedded flash, 512 kB of RAM, and 8 MB of external flash memory, it offers a foundation for solution development. To ease the product development process, it includes integrated antennas for all featured technologies, a USB interface and USB charging, a Sparkfun Qwiic I2C connector, and a debug interface.

The XPLR-IOT-1 kit also includes native support for u-blox services such as:

  • MQTT Anywhere: Delivers ultra-low power by communicating data between the device and the enterprise using the MQTT-SN (MQTT for sensor networks) protocol
  • CloudLocate: A positioning in cloud service that can extend battery life up to 4x for tracking applications with strtingent power requirements (such as freight container trackers)
  • CellLocate: A mobile network-based location service that 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 ranging from wireless sensor networks to industrial or smart building gateways and beyond. 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.

For more information, visit u-blox.