Nordic Semi launches cloud location service for its cellular IoT chips

August 12, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Nordic Semi launches cloud location service for its cellular IoT chips
The nRF Cloud Location Service supports fleets of cellular IoT devices, including cellular network and assisted & predicted GPS location services, and firmware over the air updates

Nordic Semiconductor has launched a cloud-based location service for systems based on its nRF9160 System-in-Package (SiP)-powered cellular IoT devices.

The nRF Cloud Location Service builds upon Nordic’s internal cellular IoT connectivity cloud and provides external access to full commercial location services using the nRF9160.

The offering will start wit using single- and multi-cell location services as well as Assisted- and Predicted-GPS for indoor and outdoor applications. 

The single-cell method relies on identifying in which cell the tracked device is situated and then referencing the cell identification against a database of known base station geographical locations. It offers accuracy down to kilometer level while extending battery life because it does not require operation of the GPS modem. Multi-cell location builds on the single-cell technique by referencing the position of several nearby base stations to offer accuracy down to several hundred meters while still keeping power consumption very low. 

GPS offers greater location accuracy down to tens of meters. However, when using a cellular IoT device, a cold-start GPS modem time-to-first-fix (TTFF) on a group of satellites can take minutes and use significant battery capacity. Assisted-GPS provides near-future satellite location data to the IoT device through the cellular connection before the GPS modem is switched on.

A typical result is a reduction in TTFF down to 5 seconds, helping extend battery life. The Predicted-GPS technique builds on Assisted-GPS by providing over two weeks predicted assistance satellite data to the device. The result is a short TTFF and accurate location determination but with even greater power savings because of the lower frequency of assistance data requests to the cellular network by the IoT device compared with Assisted-GPS.

Nordic is partnering with multiple third-parties to ensure a high-quality service for Nordic devices and nRF Cloud customers. These partners will provide GPS assistance data, and an inexpensive and easy-to-access location history with timestamp information for each of the customer’s IoT devices. The product can also

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