What is Ultra-wideband, and how it works?

Ultra-wideband, also known as Ultraband or UWB, is a short range communication protocol that works through radio waves such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It allows a lot of data to be transmitted over a short distance with low power usage. With its low power spectral density (PSD), it can use the spectra of the frequencies reserved for other communication systems with almost no confusion.

In the early 2000s, the UWB was mainly used in military radar, covert communications and medical imaging systems. It began to become popular recently, when commercial interests began to discover potential uses. Nowadays, its main purpose is to be the location discovery.

How it works?

Unlike the signal transmission of narrowband technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a UWB transmitter sends out a large number of pulses over a wide spectrum. This means that data is transmitted at a frequency over 500 MHz over multiple frequency channels at once. A receiver corresponding to the transmitter converts the received pulse train to data.

UWB has extremely low power usage. Besides, with its high bandwidth, it provides seamless, large amount of data transfer to other devices up to about 25 meters away, but it is not as successful as Wi-Fi when it comes to transmitting through walls.

When two devices with UWB come closer to each other, start to set or measure the exact distance between them. The interval is measured by ToF (time of flight) measurements between two devices. These measurements are used to calculate the round-trip time of challenge / response packages.

Unlike traditional radio technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, it makes UWB technology much more precise and enables very precise measurements that the signal working with ToF instead of RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator). For this reason, UWB is used for real-time location systems (RTLS).

It is also used for peer-to-peer precision spacing allowing many applications based on relative distance between two assets. With the precise range, UWB is advantageous in both sensitivity and security compared to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies. For example, a vehicle can be unlocked or access to places where security is important with a UWB key, or access to a bank account via an ATM with a mobile device with UWB technology.

References

  1. Wikipedia. Ultra-wideband
  2. Sciencedirect. Ultra-wideband
  3. Samsung. (2021). What is Ultra-wideband and how it work
  4. Allaboutcircuits. Introduction to Ultra-wideband, UWB technology
  5. Ultrawideband.io Website
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