Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

U-Blox modules provide IoT connectivity for Arduino boards

Steve Rogerson
May 31, 2018

Open-source hardware and software company Arduino is using technology from Swiss firm U-Blox to deliver wireless connectivity options for IoT applications for the four latest boards in its MKR family.
Previously Arduino adopted U-Blox for its MKR GSM 1400, now one of the most popular boards of the MKR family for its characteristics and robustness.
Arduino introduced the MKR family and form factor to address IoT use cases by focusing on a standard blue print including a hardware crypto chip for enhanced security, a LiPo charger for power management, and an Arm Cortex M0 microcontroller. The MKR family offers a wide range of connectivity options, from low power long range to more traditional options, to satisfy user requirements for IoT applications.
One of the boards released is the MKR Wifi 1010, a Cortex M0-based board that provides wifi connectivity for IoT projects. It integrates the globally certified U-Blox Nina-W102 stand-alone multi-radio module delivering wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. Featuring an open CPU, the Nina-W102 lets Arduino run its own application on the module, offloading communications tasks from the user-programmable Arduino CPU and increasing the board’s power efficiency.
Two more boards incorporate the Nina-W102. The MKR Vidor 4000 is the first-ever Arduino board featuring an FPGA chip coupled with a development environment that aims to democratise and simplify access to the world of FPGAs. The Uno Wifi Rev 2 aims at making it easier to deploy products that need wifi connectivity.

In addition Arduino expanded its cellular offering with the MKR NB 1500, which hosts a U-Blox Sara-R410M  cellular module providing LTE Cat NB1 and LTE-M cellular connectivity that is pre-certified for global use. Also equipped with a Cortex M0 microcontroller, the MKR NB 1500 is geared towards IoT applications with low demands for bandwidth and data volumes and is optimised for low power consumption, enabling efficient battery-powered applications.
The boards have industrial grade communications modules with an extended temperature range and guaranteed reliability, making them attractive to professional users seeking to develop small volume products or quickly prototype concepts and ideas.
“To grow a full portfolio of connectivity boards for professional IoT use cases, we needed to find a supplier offering a superior quality and easy-to-use, globally certified range of modules in line with our brand strategy,” said Fabio Violante, CEO of Arduino. “Their roadmap and the compatibility between the products offered by U-Blox sealed the deal for us. We also liked their approach to the educational market, that is in line with our vision.”
Arduino offers a range of software tools, hardware platforms and documentation enabling almost anybody to be creative with technology. Arduino is a popular tool for IoT product development as well as one of the most successful tools for stem and steam education. Hundreds of thousands of designers, engineers, students, developers and makers around the world are using Arduino to innovate in music, games, toys, smart homes, farming and autonomous vehicles.
“For us at U-Blox, working with Arduino helps us extend our reach to a broad community of young engineers and tech enthusiasts, who now have an easy and affordable way to access our technology,” said Michael Ammann, senior principal for market development at U-Blox. “We look forward to further expanding our partnership in the future.”