Technology

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30 Jun 2021

Cloud-based positioning (CloudLocate)

Ultra-low-power positioning in the cloud for extended battery life of energy-constrained IoT applications.

GPS technology has become a fixture in consumer IoT devices and high-value asset tracking solutions. IoT applications that require multi-year battery life, such as supply chain management, cold chain monitoring, logistics, inventory management, smart sensors, power tools, and disposable trackers, typically avoid the technology due to its demanding power requirements.

Cloud-based positioning is an emerging technology that combines the benefits of GNSS technology – global coverage, accurate absolute positioning – with multi-month or even multi-year power autonomy. It is ideal for use cases that require only few standard-accuracy (10-50 meter) position updates per day in which position information is used in the cloud and not on the device.

Cloud-based positioning works by transmitting GNSS signals that have been pre-processed by the GNSS receiver to the cloud service using wireless communication. By reducing the time that the GNSS receiver is switched on to a few seconds during the measurement and relegating the power-intensive position calculation to the cloud, the overall power consumption of the positioning solution can be dramatically reduced.

End-user benefits of Cloud-based positioning

Cloud-based positioning benefits a variety of tracking use cases. It brings GNSS technology to a new class of extremely power-constrained devices. By moving the computation of the position off the GNSS receiver, it paves the way for simplified device designs. Additionally, it extends the battery life of GPS-based IoT devices, such as asset trackers, translating to reduced field maintenance and, ultimately, reduced costs.

Minimizing the power requirements of standalone GNSS solutions typically involves making the time to first fix (TTFF) as short as possible. This is most easily achieved using A-GNSS. Because A-GNSS requires connectivity with a capable downlink, which is not provided by all long-range networks, the duration of the TTFF – and the power required to establish a position – can often be unpredictable.

Cloud-based positioning only requires an uplink to the cloud. In implementations that preprocess the satellite data on the device, packet sizes can be reduced to 12-50 bytes (supported by u‑blox M10 only). This makes the technology viable even in limited bandwidth networks specifically designed to offer low power wide area connectivity such as LTE-M, LORA, and SigFox.

What is CloudLocate?

CloudLocate is u-blox’s cloud-based positioning service, designed to extend the battery life of power-constrained IoT devices. CloudLocate is tailored to the needs of IoT asset tracking applications that require roughly 10-meter position accuracy, few daily position updates, and only need the positioning information on the cloud, not on the device.

 

CloudLocate only uses an uplink to the cloud to resolve position. Because the GNSS signals are preprocessed on the receiver, the solution works with a data packet size of 12-50 bytes, even in limited bandwidth networks.

u-blox differentiators

Up to 10x power savings over standard GNSS

CloudLocate saves up to 90% of the power and acquisition time compared to a standalone GNSS receiver doing a cold start in 30 seconds and without the need of an A-GNSS service. CloudLocate can be configured to optimally balance power consumption versus positioning accuracy, achieving a median accuracy up to three meters within three seconds in good signal conditions.

 

Business enabling

CloudLocate, available globally with reliable coverage and warranted support, extends market reach by bringing the accuracy of satellite-based positioning to power- and cost-constrained applications. Build new cloud services, grow your business, expand to new markets, and enable your enterprise: all by leveraging the advantages of CloudLocate.

 

Using u‑blox M10 for minimal bandwidth requirements

Preprocessing incoming GNSS signals on the GNSS receiver reduces the size of the data packet that the device uploads to the cloud for positioning when compared to cloud-based positioning solutions that use rely on unprocessed GNSS signals. This saves power by shortening the communication and money, by cutting costly bandwidth, for example for satellite communication.

 

Guaranteed service levels, warranty, and support

CloudLocate is backed by a quality-of-service guarantee including a full service-level agreement and support, thanks to full ownership of all the technology buildings blocks with no external dependencies.

 

Connectivity agnostic

CloudLocate works with any connectivity technology, including 4G LPWA, LTE Cat 1, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or proprietary wireless technologies.

 

Delivery through the Thingstream service platform

CloudLocate is delivered through the Thingstream IoT service delivery platform, a cloud-based delivery platform and administration interface for enterprise IoT services. Pressure tested and proven to support the delivery of billions of messages, the platform provides a self-service user interface for users to manage their device’s functionality.

Use cases that benefit from CloudLocate

Logistics container tracking

With CloudLocate, logistics trackers combine high-accuracy, globally available positioning service with ultra-low power consumption into a low-maintenance logistics container tracking solution with several months or even years of power autonomy.

Supply chain management

Cloud locate delivers positioning information from a variety of sources to the enterprise cloud platform using any available means of wireless communication, making it an ideal solution to track assets in complex supply chains, indoors, outdoors, on land, at sea, and in the air.

Inventory

CloudLocate’s low power demand and maintenance requirements make it ideal for tracking inventory. Eliminating superfluous buffer inventory increases free cash flow, ultimately translating to an overall better business

Power tools

CloudLocate can help keep tabs on high-value assets such as power tools on construction sites, saving time otherwise wasted looking for missing items and making it easier to locate and recover stolen tools.