IMC Newsdesk

Electronic Precepts uses U-Blox modules for Covid-19 tracking

  • September 15, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Bluetooth modules from Swiss firm U-Blox are being used in Covid-19 track-and-trace wearable devices developed by Florida-based Electronic Precepts.

The 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 effective track-and-trace technology, 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 2m distance of them for over 45s. 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 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 had to meet both these key criteria fully. Given the immediacy of the Covid crisis, it was crucial as well that it 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 had all the attributes needed.

“U-Blox was 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,” said 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.”

With dimensions of 6.5 by 6.5 by 1.2mm, this integrated and pre-approved system-in-package (SiP) is suitable for situations where a swift turnaround is needed. It is based on Nordic’s nRF52832 chip-level Bluetooth technology, with a 64MHz Arm Cortex-M4 processor plus 512kbyte of embedded flash memory. Supporting 1.4Mbit/s data rates, it is suited to wearables applications and does not impact heavily on battery reserves.

“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,” said Carl Bellanca, head of sales for U-Blox in the 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.”

With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, U-Blox is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia and the USA.