Blog Industry Technology

UWB Instead of Mobile Apps: This Is Why Companies Have One Big Advantage Over Governments

Martin Lawitzky is the Head of Product Management at KINEXON. With his team, he was deeply involved in the development of KINEXON SafeZone. His comparison of different technologies shows that when it comes to tech-based protection against infections, companies have an option that the public sector does not.

MunichJun 03, 2020

In the fight against COVID-19, the time has come for long-term solutions that are highly efficient. Signs and adhesive tape to avoid critical contact with others can no longer be categorized as sufficient protective measures. 

The observance of distance regulations and the tracing of infection chains (“exposure management”) must be solved digitally. That’s why countries all over the world are currently working on apps to trace chains of infection. 

The two questions that are being discussed on all levels at the moment:

  • How can we regulate the proposed physical distance — and thus reduce infection risks? 
  • How can critical contacts involving those infected with COVID-19 be identified quickly and unambiguously?

While governments around the world are collaborating with Apple and Google for apps that can provide digital answers to both questions, companies have a decisive advantage that most of them are not aware of: 

Companies can create areas that offer a level of security that no other non-private areas can — a safe zone” so to speak. The reason for this is that companies are able to rely on a technology that can only be implemented in limited areas. A nationwide deployment would not be possible for logistical reasons. I’m talking about the use of ultra-wideband technology.

With KINEXON SafeZone, we have developed and launched a UWB-based wearable, which offers companies of all kinds a concrete answer to these questions mentioned above. 

People wear small, 15 g light so-called SafeTags”, which immediately alert as soon as the distance to another person is too close. If there is a case of infection, an optional software extension allows companies to trace back the contact chain of the infected person (“contact tracing”) — 100 % compliant with data protection.

See in this video how precisely KINEXON SafeZone works:

Tracing Apps lack data protection, commitment and acceptance

Exposure management is what governments — and companies, too — want to realize with a mobile app (“tracing app”). However, the search for a reliable solution is complicated by two challenges: 

  • Data protection: Users (naturally) want to be sure that they cannot be tracked
  • Reliability: Contacts must be unambiguous and precisely identified

Even if such an app overcomes these challenges, it must be installed by every single person. In Singapore, where such an app is already in use, only about 20% of the population did so. The chance to really recognize a contact via smartphone drops to only 4%! It is safe to assume that the number of employees in a company choosing to install an app would be around the same number. 

What speaks for the app, speaks against it

It is obvious that governments think of mobile apps when they are looking for a digital solution. Nearly every citizen owns a smartphone. An app can be installed quickly and free of charge. Open source creates the confidence that confidential data is handled cleanly. The infrastructure for deployment is also excellent.

Even in companies where every employee already has a smartphone and is allowed to use it frequently at work (“Bring your own device”), still poses a challenge. This is precisely where one major weakness lies: private devices are private. They should remain private. A comparison of the available potential technologies for a distance warning and contact tracing solution shows that they all have significant weaknesses in overcoming the challenges of data protection and reliability:

Bluetooth is not reliable enough

Most of the app solutions that are currently being discussed are based on contact tracing via Bluetooth, as this is integrated in every smartphone anyway. As the inventors Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattisson themselves point out, Bluetooth is not accurate enough. Deviations of up to 10 meters are possible due to attenuation or deflection of the radio waves by the surroundings.

Another problem is the dependence on operating systems: Apple’s iOS doesn’t allow Bluetooth to be used in the background, and in some Android versions Bluetooth is only usable when GPS is turned on and location data is being transmitted to Google. This is exactly what users refuse. Last but not least, parallel Bluetooth connections affect the contact stability of such an app.

GPS works (conditionally) only outdoors

GPS determines distances between people and contacts. However, the signal exchange with satellites requires users to be outside. Even if they are outside, surrounding tall buildings can distract the signal in such a way that inaccuracies of up to 100 meters can result. Plus, on average we spend more than 75% of our waking hours indoors.

WLAN works indoors, but eats battery and network

The alternative for the indoor stay could be WLAN tracking. After all, WLAN is available in (almost) every building and is similarly accurate to Bluetooth. The problem is different: WLAN tracking is a real battery eater. In addition, the network is under increased load.

Cell localization is useless when used nationwide

User positions can also be determined based on the mobile network and the use of text and telephone data. Although there are various technological options, only one of the simplest is available in all smartphones. These can even be miles off!

NFC reacts too late

NFC, or Near Field Communication, is much more accurate, even to the centimeter — but in the current version it can only measure distances in the centimeter range. Longer distances like 6 feet (1.8 meters) are possible, but not realiable enough for real-time warning or exposure management.

Audio signals are a solution — if there is no noise

Distances could also be determined accurately and reliably enough by means of high-frequency sounds and their reflection. Smartphones do not have this installed by default, but apps can retrofit. Its disadvantage: If the surrounding is too loud or sounds occur in the same spectrum, the measurement is distorted and useless.

UWB does not have these disadvantages — but needs sensors

One industry-proven technology that does not have all these weaknesses is ultra-wideband localization. This technology might not be a realistic option for public use. The simple reason: UWB sensors are not integrated in all smartphones. Only some of the latest smartphone models are equipped with them.

Not every UWB solution is the same!

UWB sensors alone are not enough. Ultra-wideband technology is only reliable and accurate when its data processing is as well. This requires many years of experience and compliance with an industry standard. 

At KINEXON, a leading supplier in this field, we filter all raw position data generated by our sensors in our own developed Real-Time-IoT software. This software detects disturbances in real time.

In short: The more position data is processed and the more intensively these algorithms are developed, the more accurate the distance warning and exposure management. 

With KINEXON, we offer the most intelligent UWB-based real-time solutions for various applications. Due to our long-time industrial experience, KINEXON algorithms are advanced on a level that our software is even used to correct third-party location data.

Our big plus: UWB wins in reliability AND data protection

To reliably protect employees, operational processes and create an acceptance for a digital solution among the workforce all at the same time, there is no better technology then ultra-wideband. Moreover, a very decisive point is often forgotten:

The UWB-based solution KINEXON SafeZone realizes contact tracing without tracking because it does not record any position or movement data. It only contacts with other sensors. If these need to be analyzed, the explicit consent of the sensor carrier is required.

(Author: Martin Lawitzky)

Learn more about KINEXON SafeZone

More stories

STILL Automatiklager Danfoss EXV Navigation rotierende Laserscanner 2021
STILL's automation solutions integrate with KINEXON to bolster VDA 5050 compliant fleet management.

We drive automated vehicles – under this slogan STILL offers the iGo portfolio: different vehicle-based expansion stages for the automation of intralogistics, which can be individually adapted to individual requirements. iGo systems implement the automated interaction of one or multiple different industrial trucks in order to perform transport tasks in the warehouse without a driver. 

SAFELOGs automation solutions as part of the VDA 5050 fleet management.

Welcome to this blog post about the SAFELOG AGV X1 1200 tt, the latest addition to the fleet of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from SAFELOG. This advanced AGV is equipped with unique features, that increase its flexibility on unknown levels. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of the AGV X1 1200 tt and its ability to create value in various intralogistics use cases and applications, including material handling, and in manufacturing and warehousing. Furthermore, we will elaborate how the AGV X1 1200 tt is especially beneficial for brownfield projects and how it can be customized to suit specific process requirements.

March Madness NCAA College Basketball Player Tracking
Coaching Guide for March Madness: How to Get Ready for the Hottest Time of the Year

March Madness: You lose, you go home – You win, the dream lives on. The most important question for coaches and athletes alike: how to get ready for the hottest time of the year? Philipp Lienemann, Sr. Customer Success Manager at KINEXON, introduces an integrated approach — get the exclusive guide here!

Yannis Irid Strengt and Conditioning Coach FFBB
How the French Basketball Federation Uses KINEXON IMU & LPS to Identify Talent and Maximize Youth Development

At the Institut National du Sport, de l’Expertise et de la Performance (INSEP), the French Basketball Federation’s (FFBB) Performance Specialist Yannis Irid and his team use KINEXON’s PERFORM IMU und LPS to develop young players, prevent injuries and tailor training plans to their needs. Here, Irid, who is also conducting a PhD thesis in collaboration with the FFBB and the Institute of Biomedical Research and Sports Epidemiology, gives insights into the process and explains how KINEXON also helps in talent evaluation.

OMRONs automation solutions as part of the VDA 5050 fleet management.

The world of automation and robotics is rapidly evolving, and the latest innovation from OMRON is making waves in the industry. The Mobile Manipulator, a combination of Cobot and the Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR), is set to revolutionize the manufacturing and intralogistics processes. Seamlessly integrated into the KINEXON AMR & AGV Fleet Manager, this technology boasts a standard interface of VDA 5050, promising to boost productivity and efficiency for businesses across industries. 

Performance Tracking Volleyball Vakifbank
Bump-Set-Spike: Giovanni "Vanny" Miale Shares Insight into Performance Technology for Volleyball

Giovanni Vanny” Miale is a true expert who can draw from over 20 years of experience in professional volleyball. When it comes to performance tracking, the decorated performance coach for the Turkish volleyball club, VakıfBank Spor Kulübü, believes in the value technology can provide athletes on and off the court. KINEXON caught up with Vanny to share his thoughts — read the interview here! 

A Collection of Insights: 2022 State of Performance Tracking in College Basketball Report

While some collegiate programs utilize data to maximize performance on and off the court, others await their chance to take their skills to the next level. KINEXON surveyed more than 500 men’s and women’s college basketball student-athletes and interviewed coaches across the U.S. — get exclusive insights here! 

Player Tracking Youth Academy Insights
Load Management in FCBB Youth Academy - How to Improve Performance and Reduce Injury Risk

Injuries can be devastating. Especially if they put a next-gen player’s ascent on hold. The good news: if monitored and managed correctly, the impact of load can decrease tremendously. Sports Scientist Philipp Hartmannsgruber explains FC Bayern Basketball’s approach to managing load, reducing injury risk, and KINEXON’s role based on a four-month pilot project. 

KINEXON Furman University NCAA College Basketball
Behind the Scenes: How Player Tracking and Data-Driven Performance Evaluation is Transforming Basketball at Furman University

As an abundance of statistics and technology infiltrates the daily vernacular of the sports industry, it can be challenging to bridge the gap between analysis and impact. At KINEXON, we strive to collaborate with partners on both the professional and collegiate level to not only collect data but to transform numbers into actions that enable a sport’s most valuable asset: the players on the court.

Key-Performance Indicators in Football (Soccer) and How to Use Them

Using player tracking metrics has become almost mandatory in pro football. They may not guarantee success. Yet, knowing which key performance indicators to use and how to combine them helps evaluate athletes’ performances, prevent injuries, and lead them to peak performance.

5 Take-Aways Why Performance Tracking with IMU Is a Game-Changer in Volleyball

Player tracking is gaining ground in volleyball. Using key performance indicators (KPIs) helps coaches and players evaluate progress, work towards specific goals, and make informed decisions based on objective data. Chris White, Customer Success Manager at KINEXON and Exercise Physiology Expert, gives insights on how KINEXON’s PERFORM IMU helps transform the sport of volleyball through KPIs in five steps. 

Player Tracking Volleyball KINEXON
Volleyball Performance Tracking in Action: How Live Data Boosts Player Performance and Fan Engagement

Player tracking benefits volleyball as much as any other sport. The technology allows coaches to prepare their players on point while reducing the risk of injury. Through new insights, fans get a deeper understanding of the game. But which metrics matter most? Who benefits precisely, and how? Read about the boost live data provide players and fans with.

A New Chapter: Our Success Story with the HBL - Context is King

The LIQUI MOLY Handball-Bundesliga (HBL) and KINEXON have worked together closely since the 2019 – 20 season. Christian Günther, KINEXON expert for strategic partnerships, comprehensively introduces one of handball’s most exciting projects and takes stock.

How German Bundesliga Clubs Benefit from Player Tracking

The German Bundesliga has used player tracking to enhance the fan experience and support clubs with official match data for a long time. With all stadiums equipped with state-of-the-art camera setups and clubs implementing KINEXON tracking technologies in their practice facilities, the goal is clear: help teams obtain competitive insights, manage the risk of injury, and close the gap between training and match demands. Here is how it works.

European League of Football Player Tracking
Premiere in the European League of Football: Live-Tracking of Tackles, Sprints and More

Countless data insights have already become indispensable for coaches, players, media and fans in professional sports. American football goes one step further. In collaboration with KINEXON, the European League of Football also provided data on collisions and sprints to Staff and Fans live for the first time.