The LTE extension boards from Sony let you add LTE Cat-M1 and NB-IoT cellular capabilities to sensors and other devices.
Many IoT products include sensors that need cellular connectivity to bring their data home. Sony’s LTE extension boards let you make those connections through the LTE Cat-M1 and NB-IoT (NarrowBand IoT) communications standards.
Think of the extension board as a motherboard for Sony’s current line of SPRESENSE boards that include a camera board and a main board. The lower image in the figure shows a SPRESENSE main board mounted atop the LTE Extension Board. The main board adds an MCU and I/O to the camera board, which sits atop the main board. I/O includes UART, SPI, and I2S communication ports and a GNSS antenna port. Adding the extension board creates a three-layer stack.
The extension board brings the I/O pins out, plus it adds a Sony ALT120 cellular modem SoC, two USB ports, and microSD card, and a headphone connector that supports a four-channel digital microphone input or 2-channel analog microphone input with headphone output. The SoC includes an LTE CAT-M1/NB1/NB2 modem with 2G fallback, GNSS, radio transceiver, PLL supporting TCXO and XO inputs, PMU with voltage regulators and RTC. The ALT1250 includes an integrated iSIM so no external SIM card is needed. The upper phots in the figure show both sides of the LTE extension board.
Applications include meter-reading for analog meters such as for water, electricity, and gas. The SPRESENSE camera board can capture the meter values and needle positions, then send the images to a server over an LTE-M or NB-IoT communication network. Sony also provides an extension board without the LTE modem. The modem extension board will begin shipping in February 2022. Price: US$79 or €66.