Wi-Fi “sniffing” is a great way to do rough location processing. A sensor reads the MAC ID and signal strength of Wi-Fi Access Points nearby, sends that data to the cloud. A Wi-Fi MAC ID database, like Google, Wigle, or Skyhook calculates location. Traditionally, getting Wi-Fi information required a fairly expensive Wi-Fi module, but we were pleased to see that Semtech has released the LR1110. This chip includes a GPS processor, Wi-Fi scanner, and a Lora radio. Even using it just for the Wi-Fi sniffing would be a valuable addition to the BOM, since there is no other way to do this cheaply (that I know of).
Batteries are perhaps the most annoying thing in IoT. They create a maintence nightmare, and extensive testing and qualification must be a part of any successful product, especially if long life is needed. I’m loving the Qoitech Otii, which is a complete battery test and emulation device. It makes testing batteries and running power regression testing on your embedded builds a snap. If you build IoT hardware that runs on batteries, you must have one.
Ultrawide band is perhaps the ultimate technique for getting very precise location using radio. And Decawave (Qorvo) is the leading chip maker in UWB. Their new chip, DW3000 expands band coverage, reduces BOM, and includes a Nordic nRF52 BLE chipset. Decawave remains the go-to for indoor location.
In the world of outdoor (plus indoor) location, Link Labs, recently announced a new BLE + GPS + Wi-Fi sniffing + LTE-M tag, aptly named SuperTag. This powerful tag would work for a number of tough asset location use cases for stuff that travels around both indoors and out.