Nordic unveils first silicon-to-cloud locationing solution using Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS

Nordic Semiconductor has announced the introduction of the nRF7000 Wi-Fi companion IC, becoming the first supplier of a complete silicon-to-cloud locationing solution with Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS.

According to Nordic, its solution will help to simplify and accelerate product development of applications based on Wi-Fi locationing.

The nRF7000 companion IC is a low-power Wi-Fi 6 chip, that’s been optimised for Wi-Fi network scanning on both the 2.4- and 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency bands. Together with Nordic’s nRF91 Series cellular IoT System-in-Package (SiP), the nRF7000 enables SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing.

Nordic’s SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing enables the acquisition of accurate location fixes in an extremely power-efficient manner both indoors and outdoors, across urban and suburban areas.

This is a valuable complement to GNSS, especially in buildings and in dense urban areas where GNSS can fail due to signal fading and interruptions. Scanning for Wi-Fi SSIDs for locationing is commonplace in products such as smartphones.

The nRF7000 IC has been highly optimised for ultra-low power Wi-Fi SSID scanning and does not support data communication via Wi-Fi. The optimisation enables Nordic’s Wi-Fi locationing solution to offer a unique balance between power consumption and location precision.

Nordic’s SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution uses the nRF7000 IC for Wi-Fi scanning and an nRF91 Series SiP for cellular communication to Nordic’s nRF Cloud. Instead of relying on traditional methods like cell towers or satellite signals, SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing scans the signals from nearby Wi-Fi access points to accurately determine a tracker’s location. This enables a location accuracy that is better than cellular-based but less accurate than GNSS, while being more power-efficient than GNSS and almost as power-efficient as cellular-based.

Nordic’s SSID-based Wi-Fi locationing solution is supported by the nRF Connect SDK, the company’s single software development environment. When used in conjunction with Nordic’s nRF Cloud Services, it enables over-the-air updates for application, middleware, and/or modem firmware while providing a secure and reliable update procedure.

The nRF9160 SiP and nRF7000 IC combine to make a compact, power-efficient Wi-Fi, cellular IoT, and GNSS locationing solution.

To help developers get started on IoT end-products using this technology, Nordic has launched the nRF7002 EK (Evaluation Kit). The EK is supplied in an Arduino shield form factor and can easily be added to an nRF9160 DK (Development Kit).

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