Mobile routers (Mi-Fi) and LTE access points
Increasingly, personal devices need access to the cloud wherever and whenever the user is located. The market for personal hotspots (so-called Mi-Fi devices) continues to grow, as do other examples of local internet connectivity, including cloud connected alarm panels and smart home or smart city devices. In such a device, a moderate bandwidth is usually deployed for the backhaul connection, such as a Cat1 (10 Mbps), or Cat4 (150 Mbps) LTE modem together with a local connection to a small number (up to10) devices via a Wi-Fi modem. Suitable products from u-blox would be the TOBY-R2, or TOBY-L2 LTE modules paired with an ELLA-W1 series Wi-Fi module.
u-blox already offers the B31 gateway blueprint as a solution. The PCB design includes LTE, Wi-Fi and optional GNSS modules. The software, which resides in the LTE modem, includes all necessary routing functions and provides a customizable html-based user interface together with a set of customizable GPIOs. External components are minimized leading to a very cost effective end-product.
Wearable devices (smart watches, fitness bands, glasses, infotainment)
The market for wearable devices is set to grow exponentially from the moderate volumes seen today in personal trackers (children, elderly people) and recreational devices (golfing, running, cycling). New high volume markets will include smart clothing, smarter watches (using speech and gesture interfaces with augmented reality) and personal infotainment devices such as lightweight glasses and interactive clothing.
Today, Bluetooth Smart local connectivity is commonplace and GNSS is becoming so. The upcoming deployment of LTE CAT-M and its low latency, low-cost, direct internet connection will enable faster and wider adoption of wearables. The smartphone ”slab” in the user’s back pocket will become a thing of the past. Key technical hurdles in this market are physical size, power consumption and cost. All of these are optimized by creating a holistic solution comprising Bluetooth, GNSS and LTE. Such solutions are already under development at u-blox, based on products such as NINA-B1 (Bluetooth Smart 4.1), EVA-7M (GNSS) and LARA-R2 (LTE Cat1).