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U-Blox joins IMC and launches wifi modules at Embedded World

Steve Rogerson
March 21, 2017

Swiss module maker U-Blox has joined the IoT M2M Council (IMC) and last week at Embedded World launched two wifi modules for various IoT and industrial markets.
The IMC trade group represents 20,000 enterprise users and OEMs that deploy IoT products and services. Its rank-and-file membership serves 24 vertical end-use markets evenly dispersed on six continents. U-Blox recently acquired the cellular module product line of Shanghai-based SIMCom Wireless to broaden its product line and global footprint.
“Our IMC membership reinforces the message that we can deliver our entire range of products anywhere, and we know of no other trade group that has gathered a comprehensive cross-section of IoT buyers on this kind of scale,” said Nikolaos Papadopoulos, senior VP of strategy at U-Blox for the Americas. He will represent the company on the IMC board. 
“We’re proud to welcome U-Blox as our newest board member-company,” said Joel Young, IMC chairman and CTO of Digi International. “Like our rank-and-file membership, our board is an eclectic group that includes providers of software, hardware, connectivity and integrations services. We’re constantly looking for new ways to bring these buyers and sellers together, and U-Blox illustrates that effort.”
U-Blox’s product line includes hardware products for near-range, cellular and GNSS applications, which are used in applications as far afield as wearable healthcare devices and automotive manufacturing. Most recently, the company introduced products for increased security and low-power applications, both hot issues in the IoT.
At last week’s Embedded World in Nuremberg, it introduced the Nina W131 and W132 ultra low power wifi modules supporting 802.11 b/g/n in the 2.4GHz ISM band. They are the first two variants of the new Nina-W1 module series.
Developed with security and quick time-to-market in mind, the stand-alone modules are said to make wifi integration easy. Their secure design makes them suitable for wifi applications including telematics, low power sensors, connected buildings, point-of-sale and health devices.

"A major challenge in today’s IoT applications is security," said Pelle Svensson (above), product marketing manager at U-Blox. "With Nina W131 and W132, we are giving product developers ready-to-use modules with extra security focus, antenna options, pre-flashed connectivity software and a range of country certifications, all to efficiently integrate wifi connectivity into IoT devices."
The Nina-W1 modules provide security, thanks to secure boot, which ensures the module only boots up with original U-Blox software. In addition, they will provide end-to-end security on the wireless link with the latest 802.11i (WPA2) standard and enterprise security to provide a secure connection to the infrastructure.
Device design is simplified as developers can choose to use either an external antenna (W131) or take advantage of the internal antenna (W132). Furthermore, the modules are pin compatible with the Nina-B1 Bluetooth Low Energy modules, thus offering flexibility for devices that are to offer multiple radio technologies. As with all the firm’s short-range radio modules, the modules will be globally certified.
The plan is to expand the series to include variants with Open CPU, Bluetooth connectivity and additional hardware interfaces such as RMII, Can and SDIO.
The IMC has been gaining an average of more than 300 new rank-and-file members weekly by offering content focused on vertical-market businesses, making it the largest and fastest-growing trade organisation serving the IoT sector. The group offers the sustaining companies on its board a combination of lead-generation, promotion and research, and has recently formed a leadership committee of senior IoT buyers to help set direction for the group. It has also introduced a software survey tool that produces leads for its sustainer companies.