Arduino Pro Nicla Sense ME is A New Sensing Platform with Bosch Sensors and Embedded AI

Nicla Sense ME is the first sensing solution from Arduino Pro. It integrates AI-enabled smart embedded sensors from Bosch Sensortech and can measure pressure, motion, magnetic field, temperature, humidity and air quality.
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Arduino Pro Nicla Sense Me

Arduino Pro just announced their new smart sensing platform called Nicla Sense ME. It is the first product from the Nicla (does that sound like Nicola?) family of modular solutions. The module is based on the Nordic Semi’s nRF52832 BLE SoC and packs multiple embedded sensors from Bosch Sensortec, including a motion sensor, magnetometer, pressure sensor and 4-in-1 gas sensor. With the new addition, Arduino Pro aims to bring a more cost-effective and versatile embedded solution for IoT and edge applications that demand faster time-to-market figures. The Bosch sensors used are the latest from the leader in embedded sensing solutions, and integrate Artificial Intelligence to infer environmental conditions in a better way. The “M” in the name stands for Motion and “E” stands for Environment for that reason. Applications for Nicla Sense ME include smart sensor networks, warehouse management, green houses, smart home and smart factory. Nicla Sense ME is compatible with existing MKR and Portenta product family, and is now available on Arduino store for $70.

Features and Specifications

  • Microcontroller:
    • uBlox ANNA-B112 with 64 MHz Arm® Cortex M4 (nRF52832)
  • Sensors:
    • BHI260AP – Self-learning AI smart sensor with integrated accelerometer and gyroscope
    • BMP390 – Digital pressure sensor
    • BMM150 – Geomagnetic sensor
    • BME688 – Digital low power gas, pressure, temperature & humidity sensor with AI
  • I/O:
    • 1x I2C bus (with ext. ESLOV connector)
    • 1x Serial port
    • 1x SPI
    • 2x ADC
    • Programmable I/O voltage from 1.8-3.3V
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth® 4.2
  • Power:
    • Micro USB (USB-B)
    • 3.7V Li-Po battery with Integrated battery charger
  • Memory:
    • 512KB Flash / 64KB RAM
    • 2MB SPI Flash for storage
    • 2MB QSPI dedicated for BHI260AP
  • Interface: USB interface with debug functionality
  • Dimensions: 22.86 mm x 22.86 mm
  • Weight: 2 g
Arduino-Pro-Nicla-Sense-ME-nRF52832-Bosch-Module-PCB-Top-and-Bottom-View-01_1
Arduino Pro Nicla Sense ME – PCB Top and Bottom views.

Nicla Sense ME is the first sensing solution from Arduino Pro. In case you are not aware, Arduino Pro is an arm of Arduino that develops advanced embedded solutions for industrial and scalable applications. Nicla Sense ME uses the nRF52832 BLE SoC from Nordic Semiconductor, in the form of ANNA-B112 Bluetooth module from u-Blox. It is a single core ARM Cortex-M4 CPU with 512KB Flash and 64KB of SRAM. In addition to that, Nicla Sense ME adds 2MB SPI flash memory for data logging and another 2MB QSPI dedicated for the BHI260AP AI enabled motion sensor. Other sensors available are BMP390 pressure sensor, BMM150 magnetic sensor and BME688 gas sensor. The gas sensor can measure eCO2 and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and output the Air Quality Index (AQI) directly. The only wireless connectivity options available on Nicla Sense ME are Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth Mesh and NFC.

In terms of I/O connectivity, Nicla Sense ME has an I2C bus with an ESLOV connector (so that you can plug ESLOV modules), an SPI, Serial port and two ADC channels. These are broken out as castellated pads on both sides of the PCB. The serial port is handled by ATSAMD11D14A-MUT microcontroller that also acts as JTAG debugger interface. This is because the nRF52832 does not have a native USB interface. One shortcoming of Nicla Sense ME is the absence of a Type-C USB interface, and instead it still uses a Micro-USB. The only button present on the PCB is a reset button. An RGB LED is present for indications.

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Nicla Sense ME power tree. Source: Arduino

Nicla Sense ME can be powered from USB or a Li-Ion/Li-Po battery. The entire system, including all the sensors and SoC uses 1.8V as supply voltage. This is probably to reduce power consumption and to keep interface compatibility. 3.3V is only used by the USB interface controller and NTS0304EUKZ level translator. Few more level translators are used for inter-voltage interfaces, and allows the user to select interface voltages from 1.8-3.3V. The battery charging is managed by BQ25120A from Texas Instruments. It also produces the +1.8V for the system. The power consumption figures of Nicla Sense ME are not available yet as per official documentation.

Programming of Nicla Sense ME will be supported by Arduino IDE, CLI and the Web Editor via Arduino MbedOS packages. Nicla Sense ME is the smallest board from Arduino Pro and has a square form-factor with 22.86 mm x 22.86 mm dimensions and weighs just 2 grams.

Block Diagram

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Nicla Sense ME functional block diagram. Source: Arduino

Board Topology

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Nicla Sense ME board topology. Source: Arduino

Nicla Sense ME Pinout

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Nicla Sense ME pinout diagram.
Click to enlarge.

ANNA-B112 Specifications

  • nRF52832 System-on-chip
    • 64 MHz ARM® Cortex-M4F microcontroller
    • 64 KB SRAM
    • 512 KB Flash
    • RAM mapped FIFOs using EasyDMA
    • 2x SPI (one is accessible via pin header)
    • 2x I2C (one is accessible via pin header)
    • 12-bit/200 ksps ADC
    • 2.400 – 2.4835 GHz Bluetooth (5.0 via cordio stack, 4.2 via ArduinoBLE)
  • Internal antenna
  • Internal 32 MHz oscillator
  • 1.8V Operating Voltage

Bosch BHI260AP Specifications

  • AI smart sensor hub with integrated IMU
  • Fuser 2 CPU Core
    • 32 Bit Synopsys DesignWare ARC™ EM4™ CPU
    • floating point RISC Processor
    • 4-channel micro DMA controller/ 2-way associative cache controller
  • 6-axis IMU
    • 16-bit 3-axis accelerometer
    • 16-bit 3-axis gyroscope
  • Pro Features
    • Self-learning AI software for fitness tracking
    • Swim analytics
    • Pedestrian dead reckoning
  • Relative and absolute orientation
  • External 2MB FLASH connected via QSPI

Bosch BMP390 Specifications

  • High-performance pressure sensor
  • Operation range: 300-1250 hPa
  • Absolute accuracy pressure (typ.): ± 0.5 hPa
  • Relative accuracy pressure (typ.): ± 3.33 hPa (equivalent to ±25 cm)
  • RMS noise in pressure @ highest resolution: 0.02 Pa
  • Temperature coefficient offset: ± 0.6 Pa/K
  • Long-term stability (12 months): ± 0.016 hPa
  • Max sampling rate: 200 Hz
  • Integrated 512 byte FIFO buffer

Bosch BMM150 Specifications

  • 3-axis Magnetometer
  • Magnetic range typ.
    • X,Y axis: ±1300μT
    • Z axis: ±2500μT
  • Resolution: 0.3μT
  • Non-linearity: <1% FS

Bosch BME688 Specifications

  • Environmental sensing with Artificial Intelligence
  • Operating range
    • Pressure: 300-1100 hPa
    • Humidity: 0-100%
    • Temperature: -40 – +85°C
  • eNose Gas sensor
    • Sensor-to-sensor deviation (IAQ): ± 15% ± 15 IAQ
    • Standard scan speed: 10.8 s/scan
    • Electric charge for standard scan: 0.18 mAh (5 scans – 1 min)
    • Major Sensor outputs
      • Index for air quality (IAQ)
      • bVOC- & CO2-equivilents (ppm)
      • Gas scan result (%)
      • Intensity level

Links

  1. Nicla Sense ME – Official Announcement
  2. Nicla Sense ME – Bosch Announcement
  3. Nicla Sense ME – Arduino Store
  4. Nicla Sense ME – Datasheet PDF
  5. Nicla Sense ME – Schematic PDF
  6. Nicla Sense ME – Documentation
  7. uBlox ANNA-B112 – Product Page
  8. nRF52832 – Product Page
  9. Bosch BHI260AP Smart Motion Sensor – Product Page
  10. Bosch BME688 Smart Gas Sensor – Product Page
  11. Bosch BMP390 Pressure Sensor – Product Page
  12. Bosch BMM150 Magnetometer – Product Page

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Vishnu Mohanan
Founder and CEO at CIRCUITSTATE Electronics
Articles: 39

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