NXP’s Ultra-Wideband (UWB) evaluation kits work with Apple U1 chip

The Fira Consortium was established in 2019 to provide an Ultra Wide-Band (UWB) ecosystem for real-time centimeter accuracy indoor positioning with companies such as NXP Semiconductors and Samsung Electronics on board.

More companies have joined since then including Apple which designed its own UWB chip – the Apple U1 – found in recent iPhone 11 & 12 smartphones, as well as Apple Watch Series 6 to enable “Nearby Interaction“. If you’d like to develop UWB-enabled IoT applications, NXP has announced two beta UWB evaluation kits – developed with partners – compatible with Apple U1:  Murata Type2BP EVK and MobileKnowledge’s UWB Kit Mobile Edition.

Murata Type2BP EVK

Murata UWB evaluation board Apple U1Specifications:

  • Wireless chips/modules
    • Murata’s Type2BP ultra-small UWB module based on NXP Trimension SR150 Arm Cortex-M chip for IoT devices. 802.15.4z compatible and supports 3D AoA (Angle-of-Arrival) for extra precision.
    • NXP QN9090 Arm Cortex-M4 Bluetooth 5.0 LE SoC with 640 KB flash, 152 KB RAM, 128 KB ROM
  • Storage – SPI flash memory
  • Connectivity
    • UWB and Bluetooth 5.0
    • On-board UWB antenna and external Bluetooth antenna
  • Host interface  – 1x MicroUSB port
  • Debugging – Debug UART, SWD connector
  • Security – Secure Element
  • Dimensions – 35 x 85 x 4 mm

NXP offers RTOS and Linux software solutions for IoT integration using the SR150 chip. The board can be used to develop asset trackers, indoor navigation applications, POS Terminals, smart locks, and all sorts of inventory and supply chain management solutions.

More details can be found on the product page, and  Murata Type2BP EVK can be purchased through Murata’s sales team.

MobileKnowledge’s UWB Evaluation Kit Mobile Edition

MobileKnowledge UWB evaluation boardSpecifications:

  • Wireless SoCs
    • NXP Trimension SR040 Cortex-M based secure UWB Solution for IoT tags
    • NXP Trimension SR150 Cortex-M based secure UWB solution for IoT devices
    • NXP QN9090 Bluetooth 5.0 LE SoC
      Technical and Functional Specifications
      On-board component
  • Wireless connectivity
    • UWB, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC
    • UWB SMD antennas. (no built-in antenna for NFC)
  • Host Interface – USB, Bluetooth Low Energy, UART
  • Expansion – Arduino headers
  • Sensor – FXLS8962AF 3-axis accelerometer designed for applications requiring ultra-low power wake up on motion
  • Security – EdgeLock SE051W I2C chip
  • Power – Coincell battery or USB
  • Dimensions – TBD

The evaluation kit specifically comes with one UWB tags based on SR040, one MK UWB Shield 2, one MK UWB Antenna board SMD with a soldered UWB module featuring NXP Trimension SR150 UWB IC, a USB cable, a  USB flash drive with software and documentation, as well as Mobile to IoT SR150 & SR040 software.

Additional information may be found on the product page, and MK UWB Kit Mobile edition can be purchased for 300 Euros directly on MobileKnowledge website.

Nearby Interaction / UWB Applications

Both boards are pre-flashed with Apple Nearby Interaction example code which helps to locate and interact with nearby devices using identifiers, distance, and direction.

Some example applications leveraging high-accuracy positioning include:

  • A multiuser augmented-reality application that places virtual water balloons in the hands of participants.
  • A taxi or rideshare app that employs a peer user’s direction in real-time to identify the relative locations of a driver and a customer.
  • A game app that enables a user to control a paddle with their device and respond to a moving ball on the peer user’s screen, as in the following figure.

Availability

While NXP Trimension development tools are available now to help developers leverage Apple’s Nearby Interaction protocol and API both SR040 and SR150 chips are the preproduction page if we are to believe the information on the product pages. So that means it may take a while before UWB devices or tags based on Trimension may take a while.

But one thing is for sure, more UWB devices are coming as other manufacturers have announced or launched UWB-capable products including Samsung Galaxy S21, while Google Pixel 6 is rumored to have UWB as well, which would not be surprising since Google is a Fira Consortium’s member.

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