Fujitsu Introduces Wirepas Massive USB Dongle for Location Tracking and IoT Mesh Network


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I first discovered the Wirepas Massive mesh network a few days ago when I covered the Solidrun Solidsense N8 IoT Compact Wirepas Massive Gateway consisting of an NXP i.MX 8M Nano processor running Linux and a module based on the Nordic Semi Wireless MCU nRF52832 managing Wirepsd Massive via its 2.4 GHz radio.

Turns out there is an easy way to add new mesh networking technology to existing gateways: USB dongles. Fujitsu has launched the Wirepas Massive FWM8BLZ09x family of USB dongles, based on the newer SoC nRF52833, with the Anchor, Tag and Sink models.

Fujitsu FWM8BLZ09x Specifications:

  • Types of USB Flash Drives
    • Anchor – FWM8BLZ09P
    • Label – FWM8BLZ09T
    • Sink – FWM8BLZ09S
  • Wireless MCU – Nordic Semi nRF52833-CJAA Cortex-M4 @ 64MHz Microcontroller with 8KB RAM, 512KB Flash, 2.4GHz Radio
  • Connectivity
    • Wirepas massive mesh networks
    • Transmit power – + 8dBm max.
    • Carrier frequency – 2400 MHz to 2483.5 MHz
    • Modulation – GFSK
    • Symbol rate – 1 Mbps
    • Modulation index – 0.5
    • Number of Channels – 40 Channels
    • Channel spacing – 2 MHz
    • Integrated antenna
  • Host Interface – USB 2.0 Type-A port used as a data port for the Sink model only, as it is only used for powering the Tag and Anchor versions.
  • Temperature and humidity range – -30 ° C to +60 ° C / +20 to +80% RH (no freezing)
  • Dimensions – 17.5 x 14.2 x 6.6 mm
  • Weight – About 2 grams
  • Certifications (planned) – Radio Act Japan, FCC, ISED, CE, RCM, RSM

Sink model is used for gateways that can support Wirepas Massive
Gateway software, which should be any Linux compatible gateway with a free USB host port, including Raspberry Pi boards based on Wirepas gateway software published on Github. The Tag and Anchor versions are mesh network nodes that simply plug into a device to power “Smart Tracking”.

What is the difference between a Wirepas label and a Wirepas anchor? We asked Wirepas, and Alan Sillito, Head of Global Key Accounts, explained to us that anchors are plugged into a fixed location such as a light fixture or USB charger, while beacons are plugged into moving objects such as than a laptop. We also learned that the hardware of all three models is the same and the only difference is the software. The video below shows how beacons and anchors join the mesh network.

When I first reviewed Wirepas Massive last week, we noticed that these were large-scale IoT deployments such as smart meters, automation, asset tracking, safety and security. and smart buildings. What I didn’t understand is that “Smart Tracking” is built into the Wirepas protocol, and it doesn’t rely on GPS location for example, and it doesn’t look like Bluetooth 5.1 direction finding which requires multiple antennas in it. Gateway.

Wirepas Smart Tracking relies on signal strength (RSSI) to estimate the location of a tag relative to anchors. Wirepas has a post dedicated to Smart tracking, and while they don’t explain exactly how it works, they do list some of the benefits and abilities:

  • The infrastructure cost required to deploy Wirepas smart tracking is insignificant – a hundred times less than RFID infrastructure and requires no human intervention
  • Each beacon can provide location, detection and can communicate back and forth
  • Inventory of up to 5,000 devices with 100% accuracy can be detected in less than a minute
  • Beacons and anchors only require power and, in the case of USB dongles, can be installed by anyone

The applications are also of interest, including detecting theft of goods in a store or truck, managing inventory, finding assets such as a car in the parking lot of a large dealership, improving the efficiency in the hospital environment because nurses can find the right asset, whether it is a bed or equipment, faster, safety and efficiency for construction workers, etc …

The Fujitsu USB dongle will only be useful for location tracking, as it does not contain any sensors, except potentially when connected to a gateway. But what’s interesting is that if you already have Bluetooth location beacons based on Nordic Semi or Silicon Labs MCUs, they can probably be turned into Wirepas nodes via a firmware upgrade, although I am not familiar with this. not the business requirements to do so. For example, I can see the Ruuvi Tag introduced 5 years ago supports Wirepas.

The Fujitsu FWM8BLZ09x Wirepas massive USB dongle is available now, but at an undisclosed price. For reference, the SolidSense N8 IoT Compact Gateway costs only $ 10 more with a Wirepas Massive module, so I would expect similar prices for USB dongles, let alone in quantities. More information can be found in the press release.

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