Bluetooth 5.1 Low Energy Modules with Long Range, Direction Finding and Mesh Features

u-blox has launched a new Bluetooth low energy module series with an enhanced operating temperature range (up to 105 °C). The NINA‑B4 is based on Nordic Semiconductor’s recently announced nRF52833 chip, and enables a number of Bluetooth features including Bluetooth long-range, Bluetooth mesh, and Bluetooth direction-finding. The module is fully tailored to the needs of applications in the connected industry, smart homes, buildings, and cities, asset tracking, and eHealth.

The main highlight of the NINA‑B4 series is Bluetooth’s new direction-finding feature, a key component of the Bluetooth v5.1 specification that brings the benefits of high precision positioning to indoor applications. NINA‑B4 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 u‑blox 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 well suited for applications such as smart lighting systems in cities and buildings, which further benefit from the module’s enhanced operating temperature range (up to 105 °C).

Featuring Bluetooth long-range, the NINA‑B4 series is ideal for deployments in harsh environments, e.g. to enable wirelessly connected and configurable equipment. Long-range not only increases the distance that Bluetooth signals can travel in undisturbed environments, but it also makes communications more robust and reliable in unfavorable ones, common 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 further stands out for its 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. Click here for more information.

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