Nordic introduces silicon-to-cloud locationing solution

14th November 2023
Sheryl Miles

Nordic Semiconductor has unveiled the nRF7000 Wi-Fi companion IC, positioning itself as the sole supplier of a comprehensive silicon-to-cloud locationing solution integrating Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS.

This single-vendor solution aims to streamline and expedite the development of Wi-Fi-based locationing applications.

The nRF7000 is a distinctive low-power Wi-Fi 6 chip tailored for network scanning across both 2.4- and 5GHz bands. When combined with Nordic’s nRF91 Series cellular IoT System-in-Package (SiP), it enables SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing. This approach is especially effective indoors and in urban areas where GNSS signals may be obstructed.

Kjetil Holstad, EVP Strategy & Product Management at Nordic Semiconductor, stated: “Nordic's dedication to low power wireless technology enables us to provide highly efficient solutions for numerous IoT applications. This focus culminates in a fusion of Wi-Fi locationing from the nRF7000 with the cellular and GNSS capabilities of the nRF91 Series SiP. Customers now need to come to just one place for a comprehensive, low power locationing solution and world-class technical support. This streamlines the process and saves them significant time and money.”

The nRF7000 IC has been designed specifically for ultra-low power Wi-Fi SSID scanning without supporting Wi-Fi data communication. This specialised focus allows for a balanced trade-off between power consumption and location accuracy.

Finn Boetius, Product Marketing Engineer at Nordic Semiconductor, explains: “The launch of the nRF7000 IC makes the Nordic SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution best-in-class. Competing solutions tend to use general-purpose Wi-Fi ICs for Wi-Fi locationing. These are usually oversized and not optimized for this specific use case. This makes them both more expensive and more power-hungry."

Boetius continues: “The Nordic locationing solution allows a trade-off between position accuracy and power consumption. In situations where high position precision is needed, GNSS is the best option. But if GNSS is unavailable or only a very rough location is needed, you can use cell-based locationing and save battery life; this will be accurate enough to tell you in which neighbourhood your device is. If you’re still without GNSS and need more accurate information, you include Wi-Fi information at the cost of a little more power. This will be accurate enough to tell you in which house the device is located.”

Nordic's locationing solution is complemented by the nRF Connect SDK, the company’s unified software development environment. Used alongside Nordic’s nRF Cloud Services, it facilitates over-the-air updates for various software components.

Ville-Veikko Helppi, Product Director Cloud Solutions at Nordic Semiconductor, highlights the advantage of a single-source solution: “If you run into technical problems on a project, dealing with multiple vendors can create a massive technical support headache. That multi-vendor headache is eliminated with Nordic’s one-stop-shop solution.”

To assist developers in utilising this technology for IoT end-products, Nordic has introduced the nRF7002 EK (Evaluation Kit). This kit, designed in an Arduino shield format, is compatible with the nRF9160 DK (Development Kit).

The nRF7000 Wi-Fi Companion IC and the nRF7002 EK are now available through Nordic’s distribution network.

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