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Power-efficient Bluetooth modules from u-blox prove instrumental in COVID-19 track and trace wearable devices

Ticking all the boxes in terms of size, power budget and breadth of functionality

Thalwil, Switzerland – September 3, 2020 – u-blox (SIX:UBXN), a global provider of leading positioning and wireless communication technologies and services, has confirmed that its Bluetooth® 5 modules are being built into wearable devices that are helping to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic. Available as either a wristband or a pendant, the TDS 50 has been developed by Electronic Precepts to present a highly-effective track and trace solution, with data being directly stored on the device then periodically sent to a web server. In addition, through the social distancing function that is also featured, wearers are given visual and vibrational alerts if another TDS-50 wearer comes within a 2 meter distance of them for over 45 seconds. The device can be used anywhere, from schools to businesses or airport settings.

The TDS-50 units needed a compact form factor to make them comfortable for the user to wear. They also had to support ultra-low power operation, with the ability to deliver passive scanning (for social distancing purposes) over a period of up to 240 hours. Consequently, the wireless communication module specified had to meet both of these key criteria fully. Given the immediacy of the COVID crisis, it was crucial as well that the solution could be brought to market very rapidly – with the constituent RF electronics being quick and simple to incorporate into the design and having all the necessary standards approvals in place.

The u-blox ANNA-B112 proved itself to have all the attributes needed. With dimensions of just 6.5mm x 6.5mm x 1.2mm, this space-saving, highly-integrated and pre-approved system-in-package (SiP) is optimized for situations where a swift turnaround is mandated. It is based on Nordic’s nRF52832 chip-level Bluetooth technology, with a 64MHz Arm® Cortex®-M4 processing resource plus 512kB of embedded flash memory. Supporting 1.4Mbit/s data rates, it is highly suited to wearables applications and does not impact heavily on battery reserves.

“u-blox were able to satisfy all our expectations with the ANNA-B112 module, allowing us to bring our track and trace device to market within a very short timeframe, while also addressing the stringent space and power constraints that had been set,” states Jeff Singer, CEO of Electronic Precepts. “Over ten thousand TDS-50 units have already been shipped and demand is ramping up every day. We see huge potential for it in schools, businesses and theme parks, as well as within airport environments.”

“This collaboration with Electronic Precepts gives us a valuable opportunity to highlight all of the key elements that make u-blox technology so appealing to numerous industry sectors,” adds Carl Bellanca, Head of Sales for u-blox Americas. “It underlines our ability to provide cutting-edge wireless solutions that have all the necessary processing and data storage capabilities, while also taking up minimal space and drawing only a relatively small amount of power.”

About u-blox
u blox (SIX:UBXN) is a global technology leader in positioning and wireless communication in automotive, industrial, and consumer markets. Their smart and reliable solutions, services and products let people, vehicles, and machines determine their precise position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks. With a broad portfolio of chips, modules, and secure data services and connectivity, u blox is uniquely positioned to empower its customers to develop innovative and reliable solutions for the Internet of Things, quickly and cost effectively. With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, the company is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia, and the USA. (www.u-blox.com)

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