Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

U-Blox targets automotive and industrial with Jody-W3

Steve Rogerson
March 3, 2020



U-Blox is targeting automotive and industrial applications with the Jody-W3 modules that combine Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. They were being demonstrated by Joakim Rydén (pictured), senior product manager, at last week’s Embedded World in Nuremberg.
 
“They are automotive grade and this is the highest standard that we test our products to,” said Rydén. “It can be used in the infotainment system, as a wifi hotspot for example. It will work with Apple CarPlay and Google Auto. It can also be used for keyless entry systems.”
 
The modules can be used for in-car infotainment and connectivity systems. They can operate in concurrent dual Wifi 2.4 and 5GHz, dual-Mac, and in 2x2 MIMO on 5GHz.
 
Each supports Bluetooth LE and Bluetooth LE 5.1 features such as a data rate of 2Mbit/s (phy), extended advertising and long range. They are based on the AEC-Q100-qualified Marvell Q9098 chip.
 
They undergo automotive qualification according to ISO 16750-4 and are manufactured in line with ISO/TS 16949.
 
The modules require a host processor running a Linux or Android operating system. They connect to the host processor through various interfaces: PCIe or SDIO for wifi, high-speed uart for Bluetooth, and PCM I2S for Bluetooth audio.
 
“In industrial applications, you can hook it up to a Linux system,” said Rydén. “Wifi 6 gives you enhanced channel sharing capacity. You can connect a lot of devices differently, which can be essential in industrial where you may have a lot of different tools to connect.”
 
The Swiss company also announced an extension to its Sara-R4 family of LTE-M, NB-IoT and EGPRS cellular modules to include variants with the hardware and software features necessary to enable end-to-end security and services for IoT data, devices and ecosystems.
 
“The new Sara-R422 product series offers superior security protection, industrial output power to grant best coverage even in weak signal conditions, and everywhere location using state-of-the-art U-Blox GNSS technology,” said Rado Sustersic, senior cellular product manager. “These represent valuable functionalities tailored specifically to the LPWA IoT market.”
 
The series is for a wide range of mission-critical IoT applications such as connected healthcare, industrial monitoring, point of sale and vending terminals, tracking and telematics devices, as well as smart lighting and building automation.
 
Security features include a unique and immutable root of trust for each device, as well as access to a scalable pre-shared key management system. This provides the foundation for a trusted set of security functionalities to enable data encryption and decryption, both on-device as well as from device to cloud. The choice of PSK based security, rather than the more complex and computationally intensive public key infrastructure (PKI) approach, strikes a balance between implementation costs and level of security protection for many IoT applications.
 
All Sara-R422 modules provide 23dBm output power, allowing the end device to operate in all network conditions. This means no issues at cell edges, no coverage issues in weak signal conditions, and no unwanted re-transmission that shortens battery life by increasing transmit time and overall system power consumption.
 
The Sara-R422M8S is pre-integrated with the firm’s M8 GNSS receiver and a separate GNSS antenna interface. This provides accurate positioning data simultaneously with LTE communications. The module also supports hybrid positioning strategies, in which positioning data provided by satellite constellations are enhanced with data from the U-Blox CellLocate service, ensuring that location data are always available everywhere.
 
“Furthermore,” said Sustersic, “the series is designed for long working lifetimes in the field, through the inclusion of support for LW-M2M, a lightweight machine-to-machine communications protocol ideal for IoT applications with the possibility of updating the firmware of modules already in the field over the air via the uFOTA (firmware over the air) client-server firmware service provided by U-Blox.”