My nRF9160DK review: An IoT and security application development kit

Table of contents

RoadTest: Nordic nRF9160 Development Kit

Author: Pablosanserr

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Nordic Thingy:91, which offers the same functionalities in a smaller, portable device.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Although the documentation and examples they provide are generally sufficient, I have not found a good variety of examples of applications using Bluetooth in this kit.

Detailed Review:

Thanks to element14 for giving me the opportunity to test this kit. In this review I will comment on the tests I have done with the kit and give my opinion about it.

I used Visual Studio Code and the nRF Connect for VS Code extension to develop applications with the board. It is really intuitive and the user guides allow you to start developing in just a few minutes.

Before testing the LTE-M functionalities of the board, I launched and modified some of the examples provided by Nordic Semiconductor's SDK. These examples highlight the wide range of possibilities that this development kit offers to the user.

In order to make use of the LTE-M functionalities, a previous firmware update was necessary. Fortunately, Nordic Semiconductor has a video explaining how to do this update. Thanks to the nRF Connect for Cloud, I was able to test a basic LTE-M application. I have not yet been able to develop slightly more complex applications for LTE-M, but I have a couple of interesting ideas that I am looking forward to implement.

On the other hand, the nRF9160 SiP on the board includes a very interesting security technology: Arm Trust-Zone. This technology allows the encapsulation and protection of data and functionalities, dividing the memory between normal and secure partitions. This has allowed me to develop an application to use the board as a secure password storage, adding another layer of security. To use Arm Trust-Zone, I used two libraries: Secure Partition Manager (SPM) and Trusted Firmware-M (TF-M). After testing both options, I decided to use TF-M, because it offers more functionalities. In addition, SPM is expected to be deprecated in the future.

As future steps, in addition to expanding my knowledge of LTE-M, I am interested in taking advantage of the BLE functionalities of the board. Unfortunately, I have not been able to test them yet.

It is a very interesting development kit. It offers tools for different technologies, which makes it possible to carry out very different projects. I highly recommend this kit both for prototyping and for learning about IoT and security application development.