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swarm Product Family

Introduction

The swarm product family targets the growing market for autonomous smart items and cuts time to market for location-aware products by 12 months. Very precise low-cost location technology can now be used without the need for RF-design capabilities or experience on low level drivers. Developers focus on application design. swarm bee modules are available with Chirp or UWB radio technology.

Both versions mainly consist of a transceiver and a microcontroller and are sharing the common swarm API, see the functional diagram below.

swarm bee modules have a compact footprint providing a convenient form factor for customized tag designs. An antenna, a battery and housing are the only necessary external components to rapidly construct low power tags.

The swarm API command language eliminates the need for low level firmware. Higher level functions like ranging or messaging can be executed by API commands.

nanotron delivers one common platform (location-aware IoT Platform) for Chirp as well as UWB. swarm bee modules offer one common API and the same Pin-Out. This shortens Time-To-Market by supporting one convenient and repeatable integration process for both modules. Both radio technologies follow the exact same location concept. Hence, the same radio signal type initiates ranging as well as TDOA supporting distance and tracking related applications within one deployment and radio technology

swarm bee LE

swarm bee LE (Low Energy) is a 2.4 GHz autonomous radio module based on nanotron’s second generation ranging and communication transceiver chip nanoLOC. It combines flexibility and integration with enhanced power management and includes simultaneous support for collaborative and fixed location systems (see Product Overview for more information).

The LE version serves applications for reliable distance or location information between 10 and 500 meters with an accuracy of about 1 meter. The integrated MEMS sensor can detect 3D acceleration as well as temperature.

How it Works

Technology

Principle of TOF collaboration

Individual radios based on an integrated transceiver chip with TOF capabilities are able to determine distances amongst them.

This way they achieve relative position-awareness.

Product Specifications

Product Specification swarm bee LE
Parameter Value
Frequency range ISM band 2.4 GHz (2.4 – 2.4835 GHz)
Modulation Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS)
Transmission modes 80 MHz, 1 Mbps or 250 Kbps
(80/1 or 80/4 mode)
TOA capture accuracy < 1 ns (better than 30 cm)
Typical air time per ranging cycle 1.8 ms
RF output power configurable – 22 t0 16 dBm
RF sensitivity -89 dBm typ. @80/1 mode
-95 dBm typ. @80/4 mode
RF interface 50 Ω RF port (for external antenna)
Host interface (UART) 500 bps ~ 2 Mbps
Power supply 3 – 5.5 V
Max. supply voltage ripple 20 mVpp
Active power consumption* 120 mA during transmission, 60 mA during receive in 80/1 mode
Power consumption in sleep mode* 5.5 mA (transceiver disabled, all peripherals on)
Power consumption in snooze mode* 4.5 µA (transceiver disabled, all peripherals off, wake-up by timer)
Power consumption in nap mode** 4.5 ~ 600 µA (transceiver disabled, all peripherals off, wake-up by interrupt)
Power consumption in deep-sleep mode* < 1 µA (device completely disabled)
Operating temperature range -30 ∼ 85 °C
Dimensions 40 mm x 24 mm x 3.5 mm
Weight 7 g
*Power consumption in all modes is measured at 20°C, 3.3 V.
**Power consumption in nap mode depends on interrupt sources (GPIO pins or MEMS or both).

swarm bee ER

swarm bee ER (Enhanced Resolution) module combines nanotron’s technology-independent swarm family that cuts time-to-market for location-aware products with UWB technology for low-cost micro-location.

The ER version serves applications for very precise (10 cm) and reliable distance or location information between 0 and 20 meters. The integrated MEMS sensor can detect 3D acceleration as well as temperature.

How it Works

Technology

SDS-TWR (Symmetrical Double-Sided Two Way Ranging)

SDS-TWR stands for Symmetrical Double-Sided Two-Way Ranging:

  • Symmetrical Measurements from Station A to Station B are a mirror-image of the measurements from Station B to Station A (ABA to BAB).
  • Double-sided Ttwo stations are used for ranging measurement
  • Two-way Two packets, a data packet and an ack packet, are used.

It is a methodology that uses two delays that naturally occur in signal transmission to determine the range between two stations. These signals are Signal Propagation Delay between two wireless devices and Processing Delay of acknowledgements within a wireless device. Because of its simple and elegant methodology, SDS-TWR can be easily adapted to many purposes, including location awareness. The following illustrates SDS-TWR.

Other Features

  • Signal Propagation Delay
    A special type of packet (Test packets) is transmitted from Station A (Node A) to Station B (Node B). As time the packet travels through space per meter is known (from physical laws), the difference in time from when it was sent from the transmitter and received at the receiver can be calculated. This time delay is known as the Signal Propagation Delay.
  • Processing Delay
    Station A now expects an acknowledgement from Station B. A station takes a known amount of time to process the incoming Test packet, generate an Acknowledgement (Ack packet), and prepare it for transmission. The sum of time taken to process this acknowledgement is known as Processing Delay.
  • Calculating the Range
    The acknowledgement sent back to Station A includes in its header those two delay values – the Signal Propagation Delay and the Processing Delay. A further Signal Propagation Delay can be calculated by Station A on the received acknowledgement, even as this delay was calculated on the Test packet. These three values can then be used by an algorithm to calculate the range between these two stations.
  • Verifying the Range Calculation
    To verify that the range calculation was accurate, the same procedure is repeated by Station B sending a Test packet to Station A and Station A sending an acknowledgement to Station B. At the end of this procedure, two range values are determined and an average of the two can be used to achieve a fairly accurate distance measurement between these two stations.
  • Saving Energy in Networks
    Because many applications of wireless networks require long battery lifetime and low power, including ranging applications, Nanotron Technologies has developed an energy management system: EBM (Energy Budget Management).

Product Specifications

Product Specification swarm bee ER
Parameter Value
Key Frequency Bands 6 bands with fc from 3.5 to 6.5 GHz
Data rates 110 kbps, 850 kbps, 6.8 Mbps
Packet size up to 1023 Bytes
TOA capture accuracy < 0.33 ns (10 cm)
Ranging distance 50 m
RF output power -14 or -10 dBm
Transmit power density -41.3 dBm / MHz
RF sensitivity @110 Kbps -100 dBm typ. *
RF sensitivity @6.8 Mbps -90 dBm typ. *
RF interface 50 Ω RF port (for external antenna)
Host interface (UART) 115 kbps to 1 Mbps
Power supply 3 – 5.5 V
Active power consumption TX max. 170 mA
Active power consumption RX max. 130 mA
Power consumption in sleep mode 6.5 mA (transceiver disabled, all peripherals on)
Power consumption in snooze mode max. 6 µA (transceiver disabled, all peripherals off, wake-up by timer)
Power consumption in nap mode max. 20 µA (transceiver disabled, all peripherals off, wake-up by MEMS-interrupt)
Power consumption in nap mode max. 500 µA (transceiver disabled, all peripherals off, wake-up by GPIO-interrupt)
Power consumption in deep-sleep mode < 1 µA (device completely disabled)
Operating temperature range -30 ∼ 85 °C
Dimensions 40 mm x 24 mm x 3.5 mm
Weight 7 g
* mode dependent

swarm API

swarm API is a hardware-independent Application Programming Interface (API) to realize the ranging functionality of swarm radio nodes. It provides high-level commands which act as interface with the hardware and can be used to develop complex applications in an easy and rapid way. One of them for instance returns the distance to a specified node.

The swarm API supports three protocols: ASCII, BINARY and AIR. The ASCII and BINARY options provide direct communication between an optional host controller and swarm radios using their serial interface. The AIR option provides wireless reconfiguration for swarm radio nodes.

There are several low power modes reducing the active stand-by consumption below 5 µA.

The API User Guide describes the API commands and how to use them.

swarm bee Development Kit Plus

The swarm bee Development Kit Plus (“DK Plus” for short) consists of several DK Plus Boards with antennas and PC software which includes swarm PC Tool and sniffer GUI. The kit helps users to get familiar with the functionalities of swarm bee module and develop their own applications rapidly. It is available as Chirp (LE) or UWB (ER) version.

Proven Wireless Technology

In our technology section you will find in-depth details about nanotron’s wireless technologies.