Explorer kits are precise indoors

Two explorer kits intended to allow product developers evaluate the potential of Bluetooth direction finding and high precision indoor positioning have been released by u-blox. The u-blox XPLR-AOA-1 and XPLR-AOA-2 explorer kits are designed for low power consumption, simple deployment, and low cost of ownership for testing the technology’s capabilities for access control, collision detection, smart appliances, indoor positioning, and asset tracking.

Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology locates people or assets outdoors but cannot achieve widespread adoption for localising people or assets in indoor environments. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) released Bluetooth direction finding, which improves on the previous receiver signal strength indicator (RSSI) -based solutions.

Bluetooth direction finding makes it possible to determine the direction that radio signals travel from a mobile tag to one or several fixed anchor points. An antenna array comprised on anchor points is connected to a Bluetooth receiver and angle-of-arrival (AoA) technology, can detect the direction, or angle. This is transmitted to the mobile tag, which transmits a Bluetooth signal. When a constellation of multi-antenna anchor points is deployed, AoA technology triangulates the precise location of a mobile device or tag.

The u-blox XPLR-AOA-1 and XPLR-AOA-2 explorer kits showcase one of the first complete Bluetooth-based tracking solutions – from the tag to the cloud – to offer sub-meter level accuracy in indoor environments, says u-blox.

The the u-blox XPLR-AOA-1 comprises a u-blox C211 antenna board, a u-blox C209 tag and necessary software. It offers all the required components to evaluate AoA technology. Applications include detecting whether a person or an object is approaching a door, avoiding collisions between moving objects, and directing a camera at a moving tag.

The u-blox XPLR-AOA-2 demonstrates the u-blox high precision indoor position proof of concept built around Bluetooth direction finding. It comprises four u-blox C211 antenna boards, four u-blox C209 tags, and all the software required to leverage AoA technology for diverse applications.

Both explorer kits use the u-blox NINA-B4 Bluetooth 5.1 low energy module featuring Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52833 Bluetooth Low Energy SoC. Running on the SoC’s embedded microcontroller, u-blox u-connectLocate software calculates the angles of the incoming signals with no additional processing required. The XPLR-AOA-2 positioning engine software is included to triangulate the position of the tag.

u-blox has partnered with Traxmate, whose enterprise asset tracking platform is supported by XPLR-AOA-2. This offers a hardware-agnostic, cloud-based tracking system that makes it easier to set up the tracking environment, create buildings, upload floor plans, and specify the placement of the anchor points, says u-blox. Assets can be tracked in real-time via the web or a dedicated smartphone app.

The u-blox XPLR-AOA-1 and XPLR-AOA-2 explorer kits are available for sale now.


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