Cellular IoT Suite
More than 25 billion Internet of Things devices by 2020. Start developing using the new, truly global, IoT development suite by SODAQ.
The Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) is quite the buzzword these days - who hasn't heard of it? Analysts claim that by 2050 over 100 billion IoT devices will be in circulation, with the majority of these connecting to today's cellular network infrastructure. This IoT infrastructure is actively being established, with dozens of Telecom Operators taking on "around the world" initiatives in order to improve and maintain worldwide support of IoT. In preparation for the future, two exciting new technologies have been developed to integrate into the current 4G networks seamlessly, paving the way for future devices.
These technologies are called LTE-M and NB-IoT (Narrow Band IoT). The United States, amongst others, utilizes mainly LTE-M, while other nations place their focus on NB-IoT. These two technologies will be offered side-by-side in many countries, giving millions of people the opportunity benefit from the innovative technology. Now you might be wondering how to take part in the future and start developing new projects with these technologies. Here is where we, SODAQ, come into play, with this exciting Kickstarter.
We want to ensure the absolute highest quality on anything we deliver. Swiss-based module manufacturer u-blox is one of the leading companies in the development of hardware for IoT networks. As a result, we have chosen to incorporate their SARA modules in all our designs. There are SARA modules available for NB-IoT, LTE-M but also for 2G and 3G. Despite the different names, all modules have identical size and footprint.
For this campaign we have chosen to use the following modules:
- SARA-N211 NB-IoT, band 8 and 20, for the European and African market
- SARA-R410M Dual mode LTE-M and NB-IoT module for all global bands
- SARA-R412M Triple mode module with LTE-M, NB-IoT and 2G for all global bands
The first board we proudly announce is the SODAQ SARA. The SARA is an Arduino sized and compatible development board that has the powerful Atmel SAM-D21 32 bit microcontroller on board, along with one of the three modules above. The SARA is all you need to develop a complete IoT solution with plenty of available I/O lines. You can choose to run it on battery power (it is designed to run on minimal power) or even hook up a small solar panel as it has the full solar charge circuit on board.
Forget the boring, unreliable geolocation used in other boards. The u-blox SAM-M8Q GNSS module implemented in the SODAQ SARA offers precise geolocation that goes beyond traditional GPS, as it utilizes the Beidou, Galileo and Glonass satellites for increased accurate positioning. We also added an Accelerometer/Magnetometer chip (the ST LSM303AGR), so you can use the board to detect motion or magnetic fields. Or just use it as a compass, possibilities are endless!
We wanted to make it modular, so to accommodate extra sensors we have added two Grove headers. If that's not your taste, you could even use the standard Arduino headers. Ultimately, with the SODAQ SARA, you have everything you need to start developing innovative IoT solutions on the networks within your country.
We didn't just stop there. Once it comes to technology, many believe devices have to be as unobtrusive and compact as possible. That’s why we have also created a Small Form Factor (SFF) edition of the same board. We reduced the size to 55x25mm without sacrificing any of the functionality.
With this little board, you can make your IoT solution fit inside a matchbox (literally)! The SFF board uses the same SARA modules. It further has a SAM D21 microcontroller and a solar charge circuit. We have chosen to use a smaller u-blox GPS module and an external GPS antenna. Both boards are fully compatible with the Arduino development tools (the Arduino IDE), and we have made libraries available to support the SARA modules, GPS, and onboard sensors.
Which reward to choose?
You have a choice of 6 different boards.
The SODAQ SARA-N211 is specifically for NB-IoT on band 8 and 20 which means it can be used all over Europe, in South Africa and some other countries. It is the successor to the NB-IoT shield that we have launched successfully on Kickstarter a year ago and of which we have delivered more than 1000 which are used all over the world. It comes with a small antenna that connects to the uFl port.
The SARA-R410M is the same board (as the SARA N211) but fitted with the u-blox R410M-02B module supporting both NB-IoT and LTE Cat M1 in all global bands.
The SARA-R412M doesn't just support NB-IoT and LTE-M but also has a fallback to 2G. It is a quad band (global) 2G module which allows you to use it in all countries where NB-IoT and LTE-M have not been rolled out yet. Because 2G draws a bit more power you will need a battery to use this board. That's why we include a 1200mAh LiPo battery with this board.
The SFF N211 is the smaller sibling of the SARA. It has the same features but is less than half the size. We'll include two small external antennas (or is it antennae?), one for NB-IoT and one for the GPS.
The same as with the SARA series, we made a version with the SARA-R410M module for global NB-IoT and LTE-M support in the same miniature size.
We also made a SARA-R412M version. Since this one needs a battery to work, we will include a 800mAh LiPo battery with this board.
What if you want more than one board?
In our previous Kickstarter campaigns backers often asked us if they could get more than just one reward. That's why this time we created the "Any Combination" pledge. If you select this, just calculate what the combination you like to have adds up to and pledge that amount. We will then contact you to get the exact list of what we need to ship to you.
We will ship you the boards when we have them ready. You will only pay the shipping cost once, even if we have to make multiple separate shipments!
For our early bird backers we will organise an Installfest at our office here in Hilversum (The Netherlands) where you can pick up your board and try it out immediately. We will have our staff available to assist you to make sure you are connected and succesfully sending data before you leave.
If you are keen, please select one of the early bird rewards and meet us on one of the following days:
Open Invitation to all Mobile Operators
To start with NB-IoT and LTE-M in your country, you need a Mobile Operator that offers the network service and a SIM card to be able to connect to it. Many of these operators offer a free SIM cards that will allow developers to quickly start creating new applications and solutions. Here in the Netherlands we already have T-Mobile and Vodafone offering these for NB-IoT and KPN for LTE-M. We will make sure we include these sim cards with all the boards we ship to our local backers. But we would also like to invite all other operators to get us SIM cards for backers from other countries too! So please contact us and let's together make the roll out of these networks in your country just as smoothly as here in The Netherlands. If you can't provide us the SIM cards, please let us know what the procedure is for developers in your country to get SIM cards (free or commercial offerings) and we will communicate this to our backers!
Below is an overview of countries where we can offer free SIM cards. We will update this continuously when more Mobile Operators come on board.
Disclaimer: to be able to provide our backers with free SIM cards we will have to share your name, e-mail and address details with the Operator that issues the SIM card.
Arduino Open Source
The SODAQ SARA and SFF are Arduino compatible boards. This means they can be programmed with the user friendly Arduino IDE which is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS.
Where's the data?
We have a close partnership with All Things Talk and their Maker platform is our platform of choice. It is a convenient, cloud based solution to retrieve, visualize and act upon your data. This application, which allows you to manage and visualize your data and adds automation through an integrated rules engine, is called AllThingsTalk Maker.
See it working
We have run extensive beta tests for both the N-series and R-series boards over the last 3 months and we can ensure you they work really well!
What is LTE Cat M?
LTE-M is a low‑power wide‑area (LPWA) air interface that lets you connect IoT and M2M devices with medium data rate requirements (375 kb/s upload and download speeds in half duplex mode). It enables longer battery lifecycles and greater in‑building range, when compared to standard cellular technologies such as 2G, 3G or LTE Cat 1.
Key features include:
- Support of voice functionality via VoLTE
- Full mobility and in‑vehicle hand‑over
- Low power consumption
- Extended in‑building range
- Full TCP/IP support
What is Narrowband IoT?
Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology that works virtually anywhere. It connects devices more simply and efficiently on already established mobile networks, and handles small amounts of fairly infrequent 2‑way data, securely and reliably. It provides very low power consumption along with excellent extended range in buildings and underground. It easily deploys into existing cellular network architecture and offers network security & reliability at a lower component cost.
Meet the designers
The SODAQ SARA has been designed by our Hardware Guru Jasper. With his years of experience in the Sillicon Valley IoT startup scene, Jasper now enjoys working in SODAQ's small business environment and plays a significant role in the development of new IoT solutions.
The SFF is the brainchild of Nick. Nick is crazy about making boards small. He also created the immensely popular SODAQ ONE (of which we recently launched Version 3). Nick's passion is RF. He spends lots of time designing and optimizing antenna's and is also active as a Radio Amateur. You can reach him by his callsign PHISIX
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge at the moment is getting the actual modules. Given that it is a new, innovative technology, the chip manufacturers are not on full steam yet producing the required modules. The delivery schedule we are aiming for is based on the expected times we will receive the required modules from u-blox.
For SODAQ this already is our fifth Kickstarter campaign. Each of the four previous ones was a raving success. We are confident this one will be too!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)