Bluetooth modules instrumental in COVID-19 track and trace wearable devices

09-09-2020 | U-Blox | Subs & Systems

U-blox has verified that its Bluetooth 5 modules are being developed into wearable devices that are serving to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic. Offered as either a wristband or a pendant, the TDS 50 has been produced by Electronic Precepts to offer a highly-effective track and trace solution, with data being stored directly on the device then regularly sent to a web server. Also, through the social distancing function that is also highlighted, wearers are provided visual and vibrational alerts if another TDS-50 wearer appears within a 2m distance of them for over 45 seconds. The device can be employed anywhere, from schools to businesses or airport settings.

The units required a compact form factor to make them comfortable for the user to wear. They also had to support ultra-low-power operation, with the capacity to produce passive scanning (for social distancing purposes) up to 240 hours. Consequently, the wireless communication module specified had to satisfy both of these key criteria fully. Given the immediacy of the COVID crisis, it was essential as well that the solution could be taken to market very quickly - with the constituent RF electronics being quick and easy to include into the design and having all the required standards approvals in place.

The company's ANNA-B112 proved itself to have all the properties needed. With dimensions of only 6.5mm x 6.5mm x 1.2mm, this space-saving, highly-integrated and pre-approved SiP is optimised for situations where a swift turnaround is mandated. The device 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.”

By Natasha Shek