Particle’s first cellular M2M module was launched in 2015 when the company was still called Spark IO. Since then they’ve offered new modules and boards supporting recent standards like NB-IoT and/or LTE Cat-M with product likes Boron and E series castellated modules.
The company found out that most of their customers used their boards for asset tracking despite many off-the-shelf products already available, and the main reason was the ability to customize the solution. To help their customers, the company has now launched the Particle Tracking System combining a software suite with LTE IoT system-on-module and Tracker One reference product to ease the development and deployment of customized asset tracking solutions.
Particle Tracking System is comprised of three main components relying on the existing Particle IoT platform:
- Particle Tracking Services software suite with geolocation services (mapping and geodatabase), fleet-wide device management, an open device firmware application framework to integrate with off-the-shelf IoT sensors, and enable OTA firmware updates.
- Tracker SoM IoT System-on-Module (SoM) with MCU, GNSS, CAT M1 and LTE CAT 1 cellular connectivity, and advanced peripherals
- Tracker One reference products based on Tracker SoM and leveraging Particle Tracking Services
The service enables tracking of asset data such as real-time location, temperature, historical location, battery level, etc.. with all data encrypted to ensure security and GDPR compliance.
The photo above shows a Quectel EG91-EX LTE Cat 1 module optimized specially for M2M and IoT applications, as well as a U-blox NEO-M8U GNSS module with support for dead reckoning meaning it can calculate/estimate the current position by using a previously determined position and data from its built-in 3D sensor. For instance, if a truck enters a long tunnel, the module should still be able to provide a fairly accurate position.
Key features of the Tracker SoM:
- MCU – Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 SoC ARM Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM, and Bluetooth
- Storage – 8MB Flash with a Posix file system with full wear-leveling and power-safety for user storage, location logging, and backup
- Cellular (one or the other)
- LTE CAT M1 via the Quectel BG96 (NA)
- LTE CAT 1 with 3G and 2G fallback via the Quectel EG91-X (EMEA)
- GNSS provided by u-blox Neo-M8U with onboard dead-reckoning for up to 1.8m CEP50 GPS accuracy
- Wi-Fi location via onboard ESP32 with SSID scanning for third-party Wi-Fi location services
- Cellular (one or the other)
- Onboard, integrated CAN Bus controller and transceiver for fleet management and micromobility applications
- I/O Expander: 1 x SPI, 1 x I2C, 1 x UART, and up to 6 x GPIO
- Misc – GNSS clock and battery-backed RTC clock, Watchdog timer, user LED and button
- Power Supply – Integrated power management, LiPo charger, and battery connector
The Tracker SoM will become available in June 2020 at a price yet to be announced.
Tracker One reference product packs the Tracker SoM with baseboard, battery and antennas into an IP67 enclosure, and works out of the box with Particle Tracking Services. Tracker One is said to be fully certified, with no additional development on the behalf of users required making it a turnkey solution, that’s still customizable
We’ll need to wait a little long for Tracker One as it’s expected to launch in July 2020 at a price to be determined. You’ll find a few more details about Particle Asset Tracking on the product page. The company also just launched the unrelated B523 SoM LTE Cat 1/2G/3G module for the European market for $69.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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