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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Toolset accelerates the development of low power location trackers

By Nick Flaherty

u‑blox has launched a rapid-prototyping platform that lets product designers test and optimise the position accuracy and power consumption of wireless location tracking applications that use LTE-M and NB‑IoT cellular networks, as well as Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology.

The toolset combines the u-track software and the C030-R410M application board for product engineers working on battery powered applications such as sport, people and asset trackers. 

An increasing number of battery powered consumer and industrial products feature integrated GNSS receivers. These products include virtual reality headsets, smart watches, and devices to track elderly people, containers or parcels. With the ongoing roll-out of low power wide area cellular networks (LPWAN) such as LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies around the world and the extremely low power consumption they enable, the range of use cases for wireless location trackers is expected to expand further.

“With today's technology, product designers can now include optimised battery life in their applications,” said Florian Bousquet, Product Manager, Product Centre Positioning, at u‑blox. “We developed this toolset to give customers a quick and easy way to test the accuracy and the power consumption of their product ideas using the latest generation of our technology,” he says. “In many cases, they can replicate their applications and start testing the performance of different device configurations in under 15 minutes.”

“The toolset offers access to the very latest technologies, from LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular communication to our proprietary Super-E ( mode that delivers the best balance between power consumption and GNSS positioning performance,” he adds.

The u‑track software runs from embedded firmware on the new u‑blox C030-R410M application board. The board, specifically designed to rapidly prototype applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), includes an ultra-small, low power u‑blox ZOE-M8B ( ) GNSS receiver and a size-optimized SARA-R410M ( ) LTE-M/NB-IoT cellular communication module.
u-track also includes a PC software application. Its user-friendly dashboard lets users log, retrieve, and visualize power consumption, accuracy, and other important values, such as the time it takes the GNSS receiver to calculate a position (Time-To-First-Fix, TTFF).

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