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Exploring Nordic’s new Thingy:91 X IoT platform

Non-cellular 5G and Wi-Fi based locationing? What do these terms mean, and what can they bring to your application? Well, Nordic’s Thingy:91 X can do both…

In our next piece from Wirepas OPEN 2024, ipXchange catches up with Tiago from Nordic Semiconductor, and this time, he’s got a new Thingy: the Thingy:91 X!

This super-fun IoT prototyping platform features Nordic’s new nRF9151 SiP that supports DECT NR+, the world’s first non-cellular 5G technology standard and the basis of Wirepas’ non-cellular 5G mesh technology.

So what is non-cellular 5G?

With non-cellular 5G you get all the benefits of the connectivity you might expect from a mobile phone but without the requirement for base stations, SIM cards, or subscriptions. DECT NR+ also operates on the license-exempt 1.9-GHz band for less interference than other wireless standards.

When combined with Wirepas’ mesh networking stack, DECT NR+ enables you to build ultra-high density mesh networks of up to 1 million nodes per square kilometre with billions of nodes in total! Since it is a mesh network, only one device requires a connection to the cloud, and with superior reliability, Wirepas mesh networking is great for applications like smart metering, smart buildings, and smart tracking.

Then…what is a Thingy?

Nordic’s Thingy IoT prototyping platforms are packed with environmental and motion sensors, support Bluetooth LE connection to phone apps for data monitoring, and feature a LiPo battery with the ability to run for months or years on a single charge.

While you can expand these platforms with your own peripherals, the key reason they exist is to make for easy proofs-of-concept when developing an IoT application…and the Thingy:91 X is perfect for proving the concept of non-cellular 5G mesh networking!

As Tiago explains, the Thingy:91 X is built around the nRF9151 SiP (System-in-Package), which has around 20% the footprint of the nRF9160 SiP at the heart of the Thingy:91. Slightly lower transmission power also means a peak current consumption reduction of 40%, resulting in even longer battery life.

The Thingy:91 X also includes Nordic’s nRF7002 Wi-Fi chip, which allows for Wi-Fi based locationing in addition to cellular and GNSS based locationing.

Tiago’s locationing demo!

As shown on Tiago’s laptop, these locationing technologies can each be accessed through Nordic’s cloud platform, which shows all the active devices in the network. This includes an nRF1960 development board at Tiago’s house with the nRF7002 board mounted on top of it for Wi-Fi locationing.

By scanning for all the nearby access points, whether cellular or Wi-Fi, Tiago’s setup can determine its position at various levels of accuracy. The cellular locationing only shows the city that the device is in as it is triangulated by cell towers, but Wi-Fi locationing is accurate down to tens of metres as there are so many more routers than cell towers.

Wi-Fi locationing offers a mid-point between the low-accuracy, low-power-consumption locationing of cellular triangulation and the high-accuracy, high-power-consumption locationing of GNSS, but with arguably greater reliability than either technology.

Additionally, the higher the number of access points, the better the accuracy. By having multiple ways of locationing in a single device like the Thingy:91 X, your system can intelligently adjust its workload in rural and urban areas to minimize power consumption while still knowing where it is.

The Thingy:91 X is still yet to be released, but you can register your interest and read about the other Thingies by following the link to the board page below. ipXchange would love to get you connected with Nordic and Wirepas for evaluation of these exciting new technologies.

Keep designing!

Love Nordic and Wirepas? Check out these other pieces from ipXchange:

Wirepas’ non-cellular 5G mesh network in action!

Superior smart metering with Wirepas connectivity

Power management from battery to antenna: Nordic’s intelligent PMIC for low-power wireless SoCs

Nordic Semiconductor’s Thingy:53 – An AIoT funhouse for proof-of-concept smart home designs!

Cortex-M33 SiP saves energy, space, and component count for battery-powered cellular IoT designs!

Nordic Thingy IoT Prototyping Platforms

Want a fun and easy way to get started using Wirepas’ mesh networking technology?

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