Design partnership for Bluetooth location services ecosystem

24th May 2019
Alex Lynn

A strengthening of the design partnership with Quuppa, an Espoo, Finland-based developer of real time location service (RTLS) solutions, has been announced by Nordic Semiconductor. The increased collaboration builds on Quuppa's development of its Intelligent Locating System to operate on Nordic's nRF52 Series Systems-on-Chip (SoCs), including the latest Bluetooth 5.1 Direction Finding solutions.

Quuppa's Intelligent Locating System is a proven platform for novel location-based services and applications. The company has partnered with Nordic since 2016 and the latest version of its firmware, which runs on Nordic's nRF52832 BluetoothLow Energy (Bluetooth LE)/Bluetooth 5 SoC, uses the Bluetooth LE protocol to transmit the 'Angle-of-Arrival' (AoA) radio packets which in turn determines the position in space of a Bluetooth LE transceiver. 

The introduction of Bluetooth 5.1 Direction Finding enhances the technique by providing simplified access to the Bluetooth LE protocol's IQ signal data (a key component of the AoA technique) for the Quuppa positioning engine. 

The technology has been employed by major Bluetooth beacon and tag manufacturers, including, BlueUp, Tatwah and ELA Innovation, for tracking applications with accuracies down to a few centimetres. 

Quuppa's previous long-term experience working with Nordic's nRF52 Series architecture will enable the company to leverage Nordic's Bluetooth 5.1 Direction Finding support to extend the ecosystem of RTLS solution providers and applications based on the technology. Further expansion will be encouraged by Bluetooth 5.1 Direction Finding's interoperability between products from different vendors and the next generation of smartphones. Key application sectors include asset tracking and indoor positioning systems (IPS).

Nordic's recently launched nRF52811 SoC is one of the first Bluetooth 5.1-compatible commercial solutions and incorporates a powerful 64MHz, 32-bit Arm CortexM4 processor which provides ample overhead for supervising both the Bluetooth RF software protocol and the RF profile positioning engine firmware.

In addition to the Arm processor, the Nordic nRF52811 SoC includes a multiprotocol 2.4GHz radio (featuring 4dBm output power with -97dBm sensitivity (at 1Mbps in Bluetooth LE mode)), 192kB Flash and 24kB RAM, and a wide range of analog and digital interfaces. The SoC is also a good choice for cost-constrained Bluetooth beacon applications requiring Bluetooth 5 technology's extended range or employed as part of a Direction Finding system. 

"For Quuppa it is exciting that Nordic Semiconductor SoCs are now enhanced with Bluetooth Direction Finding capabilities. The nRF52811 SoC fits perfectly into the Quuppa Ecosystem by coupling very low power consumption with a highly advanced radio, providing great value," said Fabio Belloni, Chief Customer Officer at Quuppa.

Kjetil Holstad, Director of Product Management at Nordic Semiconductor, said: "Because the introduction of Bluetooth 5.1 will rapidly expand the market for location services well beyond the beacons and tags we see today, we place high importance on our partnership with Quuppa, a leader in locating systems. 

“Combining our technologies offers developers a proven, commercialised platform which they can confidently use to build centimetre-precision RTLS solutions. And because Nordic has rapidly introduced a Bluetooth 5.1-compatible SoC-an architecture that perfectly complements Quuppa's firmware-developers can start work on applications today."

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