Wifi vs Cellular for Asset Tracking - Exploring The New Fuctionaility of The Thingy:91 X

At Hardware Pioneers 2024, Electromaker had the opportunity to speak with Alexander from Nordic Semiconductor about their latest developments. A key highlight was the introduction of a new asset-tracking solution: The Thingy:91 X!  The new update integrates Wi-Fi, a cellular modem, and GNSS providing a comprehensive approach to location tracking.

Alexander explained how the device uses Wi-Fi and cellular network signals to report its location. The Wi-Fi tracking component offers greater accuracy, with smaller hexagons representing precise locations, while the cellular tracking, represented by larger hexagons, provides broader coverage with slightly less precision. This dual approach ensures reliable and accurate asset tracking in various environments.

Overview of Nordic Thingy:91 X

The Nordic Thingy:91 is a battery-operated prototyping platform designed for cellular IoT projects. It is built around the powerful nRF9160 SiP, which supports LTE-M, NB-IoT, and GNSS, ensuring wide-ranging connectivity options. Additionally, the platform includes an nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC, enabling Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity for even greater versatility.

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Key Features and Specifications

  • Battery-operated prototyping platform for cellular IoT.
  • Built around the nRF9160 SiP, supporting LTE-M, NB-IoT, and GNSS.
  • Includes an nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC for Bluetooth Low Energy.
  • Equipped with sensors for motion, impact, air quality, and more.
  • Comes with a global SIM card and is compatible with nRF Cloud.

Thingy:91 X Use Cases

The Nordic Thingy:91 X is ideal for creating Proof-of-Concepts (PoCs), demos, and initial prototypes, making it an invaluable tool for developers. Its versatile features and robust connectivity options open up numerous application possibilities, including asset tracking, environmental monitoring, and more.

Updates on the Thingy:91 X

The Nordic Thingy:91 X has seen significant enhancements since its initial release. The updated version now includes Wi-Fi connectivity, which expands its communication capabilities and applications. Additionally, a new power management chip has been introduced, offering accurate predictions of battery life. This chip uses advanced algorithms to consider multiple variables, ensuring developers have precise information on power consumption and battery longevity.

Thingy:91 X - Technical Deep Dive

The nRF9160 SiP at the heart of the Nordic Thingy:91 X supports LTE-M and NB-IoT, providing robust cellular connectivity options suitable for a wide range of IoT applications. These technologies enable reliable and efficient communication over cellular networks, essential for IoT devices operating in diverse environments.

In addition to cellular connectivity, the Thingy:91 X includes GNSS support, which offers precise location tracking. This capability is crucial for applications such as asset tracking, where accurate location data is essential for monitoring and managing valuable resources.

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Bluetooth Connectivity

The inclusion of the nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC adds Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity to the Thingy:91 X. This feature allows developers to integrate short-range wireless communication into their projects, enabling new functionalities such as device-to-device communication, data synchronization, and remote control capabilities.

 Thingy:91 X Sensor Integration

The Nordic Thingy:91 Xis equipped with a variety of sensors that enhance its versatility. These sensors can detect motion, impact, air quality, and other environmental parameters, making the Thingy:91 Xsuitable for a wide range of applications. For example, motion sensors can be used in security systems, while air quality sensors are ideal for environmental monitoring solutions.

 Thingy:91 X Software and Tools

The nRF Connect SDK supports the Thingy:91 X, providing a comprehensive software development kit for Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, Zigbee, and Matter. This SDK includes examples and libraries that simplify the development process, enabling developers to quickly implement and test various functionalities.

In addition to the SDK, Nordic offers several development tools to enhance the development experience. The nRF Connect for Desktop is a cross-platform framework that includes applications for testing Bluetooth Low Energy and LTE links, power optimization, and programming. The Power Profiler Kit II is another valuable tool, allowing developers to measure and optimize power consumption for their embedded solutions.

Practical Applications and Benefits

The Nordic Thingy:91 is a versatile platform with applications across various industries. In logistics, it can be used for asset tracking, ensuring that shipments are monitored in real-time and any deviations are quickly addressed. In healthcare, the Thingy:91 X sensors can be used to monitor patient environments, track vital signs, and ensure the quality of care through remote monitoring solutions. Environmental monitoring is another critical application, where the Thingy:91 X air quality sensors can track pollution levels, helping to manage and mitigate environmental impacts effectively.

Developer Insights

Getting started with the Thingy:91 X is straightforward, thanks to the comprehensive resources and tools provided by Nordic Semiconductor. Here are some tips for developers:

  • Explore the nRF Connect SDK: The SDK provides a wealth of examples and libraries that can help you quickly implement various functionalities and get your project up and running.
  • Utilize nRF Connect for Desktop: This cross-platform framework includes applications for testing Bluetooth Low Energy and LTE links, power optimization, and programming, making the development process more efficient.
  • Optimize Power Consumption: Use the Power Profiler Kit II to measure and optimize the power consumption of your device, ensuring long battery life and efficient operation.
  • Take Advantage of the Global SIM Card: The Thingy:91 X comes with a global SIM card preloaded with data, allowing you to start testing and deploying your application immediately.
  • Leverage nRF Cloud: Provision and monitor your Thingy:91 X using Nordic's cloud platform, which offers tools for demonstration, evaluation, and testing.

With these resources, developers can effectively utilize the Thingy:91 X to build innovative IoT solutions tailored to their specific needs.

Thingy:91 X - Final Thoughts

The Nordic Thingy:91 X stands out as a powerful and versatile prototyping platform for cellular IoT projects. Its core features include support for LTE-M, NB-IoT, and GNSS, integration of the nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC for Bluetooth Low Energy, and a suite of sensors for various applications. The recent updates introduced at Hardware Pioneers 2024, such as the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity and a new power management chip, further enhance its capabilities and usability for developers.

For those interested in exploring the full potential of the Nordic Thingy:91 X, we encourage you to visit the Nordic Semiconductor website. Here, you can find detailed information on the product, access comprehensive resources, and discover related development tools that can aid in your IoT project development.

Visit the Nordic Thingy:91 X product page to learn more and get started on your next innovative project.

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