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UWB Technology

Intro

UWB in iPhones and Against COVID-19: Everything You Need to Know About the Technology

With the integration of ultra-wideband sensors (UWB) in the new iPhone, Apple provided a popularity boost for UWB. Speculations about their use made the rounds and showed its almost unlimited possibilities. The most recent example: the technology is even used in the fight against COVID-19. But what exactly are the advantages? Who is UWB interesting for? And how does ultra-wideband actually work? An overview.

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What Is Ultra-Wideband Technology (UWB)?

Ultra-wideband or UWB” is a radio-based communication technology for short-range use for the fast and stable transmission of data indoors and outdoors. 

The History of UWB in a Flash

The Most Important Fields of Application for UWB Technology

Thanks to its high precision, transmission speed and reliability, UWB technology is predestined for the localization of objects and people who move quickly on a small-scale and complex environments and processes.

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Industries

Ultra-wideband is considered a key technology in the digitization of production and logistics. Because thanks to it, not only stationary things” can be recorded, but also all mobile ones. This is the only way to seamlessly digitize shop floors, warehouses and process chains.

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Entertainment

Action-packed shows are also digitized and automated via UWB. Because special effects are not only higher, louder and more glaring, but above all, faster. You can hardly keep up with it manually. Show special effects are therefore controlled on the screen with real-time tracking.

  • Immersive audio
  • Pyro effects control
  • Lighting control
  • Camera control
  • VR / AR experiences
  • Media installations
  • and much more…
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Sports

In team and extreme sports, the demands on performance and movement data are particularly high. In order to get ultra-fast and precise values despite the contorted halls, small playing fields, many athletes and additional network technologies, professionals rely on UWB

Other Innovative Fields of Application for UWB Technology

Even if ultra-wideband (UWB) is anything but in its infancy, the potential of the technology is far from being exhausted. The fact that Apple has integrated UWB sensors in its new iPhone but has not yet used them for the launch is just one example…

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Retail

Where are shopping trolleys located? Where and for how long do customers stay? Questions like these, help improve the shopping experience. Localization and data analysis via UWB provide the answers and open up new ways of marketing.

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Medicine & Care

Keeping the location and status of people in need of long-term care under control is also a task that can be automated with UWB — whether in intensive care units, emergency rooms or at home.

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Smart Home

From the location of lost keys to the automatic unlocking and locking of doors and smart access restrictions for pets — there are many possible uses of UWB in the smart home area.

Current News About UWB

Here we keep you up to date on the latest UWB innovations and trends.

Why Is UWB Better Than Comparable Localization Technologies?

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Even in contorted halls and rooms where different wireless connection technologies overlap, objects can be tracked live and in all directions.

Ultra-wideband is therefore one of the key technologies for particularly demanding application areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT). Thanks to UWB, it is not only possible to digitize and automate stationary machines with stable connections, but also all mobile things”.

Technical Specifications

UWB is a wireless technology that, despite its long history, can be viewed as new. Unlike other technologies, it is not tied to any frequency. In addition, UWB can transmit data over an extremely wide frequency spectrum. 

Unused frequency capacities can therefore be used ideally. The UWB frequency range is at least 500 MHz. For comparison: WLAN channels are only about a tenth as wide.

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Facts & Figures

    • Usable frequency range: 3.110.6 GHz
    • Propagation speed: linear speed of light (0.3 m/​ns)
    • max. range: 200 m (656.2 ft.)
    • max. data rate: 480 Mbits/​s
    • max. transmission power: < 1 mW
    • range: 10200 m (32.8656.2 ft.) (depending on the application)
    • Localization accuracy: 0.10.5 m (0.331.64 feet)
    • low susceptibility to interference (no interference with WLAN and ISM channels)
    • Localization via transit time procedure (ToF, Time of Flight“, i.e. the transit time of the signal is multiplied by the speed of light in order to determine the distance between radio transmitters and receivers)
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Current Applicable Ultra-Wideband Standard

UWB technology is based on the international standard IEEE 802.15.4a, which defines the physical level of the IR-UWB. The standard in the form of 802.15.4z was reopened in 2018. This should give the physical level more security.

3 Ways to Locate via Ultra-Wideband

UWB combines very short impulses that move at the speed of light. The arrival time of the signal is measured precisely over a high bandwidth, thus determining the position of the transmitter with high precision. 

If there is visual contact, distances of up to 250 meters (820.2 feet) can be achieved. Depending on the requirements, one of the following methods for position calculation is used:

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Two-way Ranging (TWR)

Advantage: highest precision and positional stability 

How it works: The anchors send UWB signals, the sensors return them. The distance is calculated based on the time it takes the pulses between sending and receiving.

Area of application: Real Time Localization of workers, tools and navigation of driverless transport systems

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Time-difference of Arrival (TDoA)

Advantage: lowest energy consumption 

How it works: The sensor emits signals which the anchors receive at different times according to their distance. The sensor position is calculated using time differences.

Application scope: Real Time Localization of things” in large numbers

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Phase-Difference-of-Arrival (PDoA)

Advantage: can be implemented in restricted infrastructures 

How it works: In order to determine the sensor position, the phase difference between received signals at both anchor antennas is evaluated and the angle of the signal is calculated relative to the anchor. 

Application scope: Real Time Localization of things” in large numbers

Advantages of UWB as a Localization Solution

Infrastructure, technical requirements and goals of the application should always be included in the decision making. Because there are many reasons to go for a UWB-based application:

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high transmission speed

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guaranteed reliability

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high accuracy

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secure against interferences and interception

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parallel operation with other technologies

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low power consumption

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large bandwidth

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