Bluetooth low energy module features direction finding, long range, and operation up to 105 °C

u-blox, a provider of positioning and wireless communication technologies, has unveiled the u-blox NINA-B4 Bluetooth low energy module series.

Based on Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52833 chip, the NINA-B4 enables a number of Bluetooth features including Bluetooth long range, Bluetooth mesh, and Bluetooth direction finding. The module is intended for use in smart homes, buildings, and cities, asset tracking, and eHealth.

The NINA-B4 series includes a new direction finding feature, a key component of the Bluetooth v5.1 specification that brings the benefits of high precision positioning to indoor applications. It is the first u-blox module designed to act as both a transmitter and a receiver in angle of arrival (AoA) and angle of departure (AoD) direction finding and indoor positioning applications.

In AoA-based implementations, stationary beacons equipped with multi-antenna arrays determine the angle of arrival of signals emitted by a tracking device to pinpoint the tracker’s location with sub-meter level accuracy. When AoD is used, the tracking device triangulates its position by calculating the angle of departure of signals from the stationary Bluetooth beacons’ multi-antenna arrays.

The NINA-B4 enables wireless mesh networks, which offer robust communication between large numbers of connected devices, extending the reach of messages by relaying them from node to node until they reach their destination. By simplifying the control of groups of devices, mesh networks are suitable for applications such as smart lighting systems in cities and buildings, which will also benefit from the module’s enhanced operating temperature range.

Featuring Bluetooth long range, the NINA-B4 series can be used in harsh environments while it also makes communications more robust and reliable e.g. in production plants or on factory floors.

The NINA-B4 series comes with the u-blox u‑connect software, simplifying the integration of Bluetooth into new and existing products by providing an easy-to-use interface to configure the connectivity required.

NINA-B4 uses a powerful Arm Cortex-M4F MCU with an open CPU architecture, allowing customers to run their own applications right on the module. Supporting Zigbee and Thread, the first members of the NINA-B4 family come with an internal PCB antenna, or alternatively, with a U.FL connector for an external antenna of choice.

Samples of the NINA-B4 will be available in December.