Uwb: what is it for and how it works? | Nextpit, Olane is Acquiring Expertise in UWB (Ultra-Wideband) Technology. | Elane

OLANA IS ACQUiring Expertise in UWB (Ultra-WideBand) Technology

It allows both very precise locations of objects and transmitting data faster than Bluetooth. Here is how it works, and why we only hear about it now.

Ultra Wideband

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Ultra Wide Band

After drawing the attention of the press by equipping Apple’s Bluetooth trackers, AirTags, UWB technology has the potential to change in the long term how we use certain devices, not only smartphones, but also objects of the objects daily.

  • Read also:Apple Airtags: Know everything before buying Bluetooth trackers

What is UWB?

UWB is the acronym for “Ultra Wide Band”. This is a radio transmission standard which is used not only for data transmission, but also for location and access control.

The UWB differs from standards such as (or, not the) Wifi and the Bluetooth in that it occupies a very large frequency strip of 500 MHz, in a spectrum which (according to the region) goes from 3.1 GHz at 10.6 GHz, and was designed to undergo (and cause) less interference with other wireless communication standards.

The current standard can be confused with the specification developed by the “deceased” Wimedia Alliance and its Wireless USB standard, which was mainly designed for data transfer and occupied the same frequency band inherited by UWB.

UWB 00

Like other technologies, the system we call today UWB is defined by a business consortium, FIRA, which are part of companies like Apple, Bosch, NXP, Qorvo, Qualcomm, Samsung and Thales.

Why is the UWB so important?

Unlike other wireless data transmission technologies mentioned, the UWB can be used to determine the distance between devices with an accuracy of a few centimeters. On the other hand, its data flow is limited to “a few tens of Mbit/s”.

According to the Fira consortium, the standard has a theoretical significance of up to 200 meters under ideal conditions. In practice, with an Airtag and the presence of walls and other obstacles, the scope is naturally shorter.

The UWB uses short wave pulses (2 nanoseconds) and the flight time technique (TOF) to determine the distance between compatible devices. With the TOF, the issuing device considers the distance which separates it from the second device according to its response time.

In addition, the system makes it possible to follow in real time the movement and the relative position between the two objects with centimeter precision.

Nextpit Apple Airtag 13

In which products will we see the UWB?

In addition to the location of objects, a function used not only in Apple Airtags, but also in certain versions of their competitors, the Samsung Smarttag+, the UWB is already used, for example, in the HomePod speaker Mini, with an improved version of the Handoff function, which continues the audio reading of the smartphone on the speaker.

In the case of HomePod Mini, when you approach an iPhone compatible with the connected speaker, the smartphone starts to vibrate, with variable intensity as it approaches. At the same time, the lighting of the homepod varies in a similar way.

Other suggested (for the general public) uses of technology mainly revolve around home automation. For example, control of the room lighting as a function of the location of a person, the lighting and extinction of the lights at the input and output of the parts, or the access control to the doors to the doors.

Samsung Galaxy Smarttag

Samsung also indicated that on devices compatible with the UWB, the nearby sharing option automatically lists other UWB devices first, simply pointing the smartphone to them.

Another potential use is that of games, especially those that call for augmented reality. Multiplayer games could also benefit from the simplification of the opponent search process, without having to activate the GPS of the device.

Outside the house, the UWB support has already been promised to replace car keys, in a mid -range version of the current NFC, with announcements made this year by BMW in partnership with Samsung and during the Google I/O on Android itself, the necessary APIs being integrated into the source code of the OS.

  • Read also:Google I/O 2021: The Recap of Google ads

In the case of cars, technology could not only be used to unlock the doors of the vehicle, but also help locate it in a parking lot, by offering visual, sound or haptic instructions as in the case of HomePod Mini. Similar ideas can be applied to carpooling services, by simplifying the circulation of bikes, for example.

In theory, it would even be possible to combine some of these applications. For example, a compact car equipped with technology, detecting trackers of objects associated with several suitcases approaching with the owner, could not only unlock the driver’s door, but open the trunk and fold the seats automatically.

NXP, manufacturer of chips not only for the UWB but also for the NFC, demonstrated this technology in partnership with Volkswagen, in a car that automated the fixing of a trailer and detected the correct installation of the child seat, deactivating the airbag if necessary.

UWB Easyopen Low Res

The UWB could also have interesting applications for people who visit places for the first time, as it could facilitate travel in environments or simplify the operation of interactive guides in museums.

According to the Fira consortium itself, this technology could also be used to personalize advertisements and control the presence in stores.

Is the UWB secure?

In addition to using encryption in data transmission, UWB security is also based on the use of TOF technique itself.

By estimating the distance on the basis of response time rather than on the basis of signal strength (an option in Bluetooth services and certain Wi-Fi services), technology avoids the risk of “Man-in type attacks -The-Middle “(MITM), for example those which use the amplification of the signal to deceive the device.

UWB compatible devices

At the time of writing this article, the UWB system is present on the following smartphones:

  • Apple iPhone 11
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Apple iPhone 12
  • Apple iPhone 12 Mini
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

Among other devices compatible with this technology, we can cite as an example:

  • Apple Airtags
  • Apple Homepod Mini
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Samsung Smarttag+

Apparently, the next generation of Google Pixel should include this technology. The other companies that are part of the Fira consortium are Sony, Xiaomi, Motorola, Oppo and Vivo. In addition to smartphones brands, companies like Hyundai, St-Electronics and the Tile trackers manufacturer are also part of the group.

Xiaomi does not want to be outdone and has demonstrated the use of the UWB in its ecosystem.

Conclusion: you have to keep an eye on the UWB

The consortium affirms that in theory, the cost of production of UWB chips is not very different from that of components for Bluetooth, if not the economies of scale in manufacturing. Nevertheless, the fact that this technology was not included in the standard Galaxy S21 does not inspire much confidence in the rapid popularization of the system.

The inclusion of the APIs necessary in Android and the adoption by a greater number of companies will be crucial for the adoption of the new standard. But personally, I think it should follow in the footsteps of the NFC system, which is not yet present in all mid -range smartphones for example.

Despite this, the UWB offers a practical potential that goes beyond the NFC, and the examples cited are only an overview of what technology can offer, even if it will take time.

@Eolane is Acquiring Expertise in UWB (Ultra-Wideband) Technology.

Schema Uwb

It can be objected localization or tracking, include indoor rentals, with a precision of +/- 10 cm in both vertical and horizontal planes.

UWB Technology Offers Several Advantages:

  • Itable High-Spi and Secure Data Transfer.
  • IT Enhancement Localization accuracy.
  • It consumes low power.
  • It has interference due to short pulses.
  • It is cost-effective.

Éolane Teams are at your disposal to assist you in implementing this technology in your product and services, gazeless of your markets, included:

  • Home Automation.
  • Virtual Reality.
  • Wireless Sensor Networks.
  • Security.
  • Object Tracking.

Let us know how we can help you integrate Uwb Technology Into Projects => Contact.

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All of Our Market Experts and Specialists are available to assist you.

Ultra-wideband (UWB): how it works and what are the compatible smartphones ?

From the U1 chip integrated into the iPhone 11, we get to know the ultra-upband, a standard related to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and allowing to locate objects precisely. It is technology that allows AirTags to work as well or to find its AirPods Pro 2.

In September 2019, the iPhone 11 was revealed with a particularity: its U1 chip. This promised to allow an improved Airdrop, which now made it possible to point out your smartphone to that of someone else to send it a file. Behind this slightly gadget feature, it is a whole technology that Apple would like to democratize. Ultra-Wideband (UWB, or ultra-large band).

Since then, the standard has spread, even if there remains the prerogative of a handful of high -end devices, which you will find the full list right here.

Devices compatible with Ultra-Wideband

Apple smartphones with Ultra-Wideband

Apple incorporates Ultra-Wideband to all of its iPhone models from iPhone 11.

Google smartphones with Ultra-Wideband

Google incorporates the UWB on its Google Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro.

Samsung smartphones with Ultra-Wideband

It is present on the Samsung Galaxy since the note 20 Ultra, including the Galaxy S21, S22 and S23, only on the more and ultra models, as well as on the Fold from the Z Fold 2.

Other smartphones with Ultra-Wideband

We also find the UWB on the Xiaomi Mix 4 and the recent Vivo X90 Pro.

Other devices with Ultra-Wideband

You will find the UWB on the Apple Watch Series 6, 7 and 8 as well as on the Apple Watch Ultra. Still at Apple, the standard is used on HomePod Mini, Homepod (2nd generation), AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and Airtag. Samsung integrated it into its smarttag+ as well as its Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

The ultra-wet what is what is ?

Ultra-Wideband is a radio standard known for decades, approved by the American telecoms regulator in 2002. But he had previously remained confined to industrial applications-the consumer electronics preferring Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

It allows both very precise locations of objects and transmitting data faster than Bluetooth. Here is how it works, and why we only hear about it now.

How to locate objects ?

Common point of UWB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi: these are all three standards using electromagnetic waves, Like light for example.

But it is a very different light from that that we see with our eyes, because it is not located on the same frequency band. Visible light, for example, has a frequency of the order of 1 million GHz. The radio waves, which interest us here, have various frequencies below 15 GHz. When devices communicate wirelessly, they take signals of a precise frequency (or color if we take up analogy with light). Telecoms authorities ensure the use of frequency bands to avoid any cacophony.

For radio waves used in our daily life, the air is not transparent. It’s like when you swim underwater: you can see a certain distance, but the water gradually absorbs light and becomes opaque in the distance. Likewise, electromagnetic signals are weakening when they travel, at different speeds depending on their frequency band.

5 meters of precision per Wi-Fi, 1 to 2 meters per Bluetooth 5.0

A smartphone can thus fulfill a function of “proximity sensor”, and note if it is close enough to a issuing tag to enter a continuous signal. This is what the large two technologies in force allow the Bluetooth Low Energy (Ble) and the Wireless. But it is not yet a distance measurement. However, if we manage to measure the strength of the signal, can we not conclude that the stronger the signal, the lower the distance ?

This is what current technologies do, but it is not effective, for two major reasons. First, just put a metal or concrete obstacle between the tag and the phone so that the signal weakens considerably. Second, there is concern for interference. If there are too many signals of the same color (or frequency), which is often the case on the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi bands, that of the beacon will quickly find it drowned in the mass. Result, the accuracy of a location is approximately 5 meters per wi-fi, and 1 to 2 meters per Bluetooth 5.0.

L’Uwb provides solutions to these two problems. It works with very fast impulses. Instead of measuring the signal strength, we can measure the Time of Flight (Tof), that is to say the time required to signal to switch from one device to another. The speed of light being almost fixed, this allows with three tags to triangulate a position with a precision of 5-10 centimeters. As its name suggests, the UWB emits on a large frequency strip: if there are too many light interference on a given color, the other colors allow to compensate.

Smartphones warehouses

Where do we use the UWB today ? Mainly in warehouses. In these places, we must be able to know with precision the position of this or that commodity, or to keep track of the transport pallets which sneak in the aisles. If the UWB has not yet been a lot spread beyond industrial applications, it is first of all because its components are historically more expensive than those of a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi antenna.

The UWB being unusual in the general public, the manufacturers of various devices have had little reason to integrate it in turn. A vicious circle well known among technological standards, and that Apple readily likes to break. For example, the firm had integrated USB port into its iMacs in the late 1990s, thus popularizing an efficient standard that struggled to take off. With the output of the Airtag, the apple firm has renewed this credo.

The other assets of the UWB

Beyond the location, the UWB has other laps in its pocket. It allows to transfer between 6 and 8 MB/s of data, which is more than the 2 MB/s of Bluetooth 5.0, and its energy consumption is very below that of Wi-Fi. Apple wishes to take advantage of it for an improved Airdrop, but we are starting to see breakthroughs in other areas. At the end of August 2019, the semiconductor manufacturer NXP joined the Volkswagen brand to demonstrate a UWB car key. This would make it possible to adorn the attacks by relay, increasingly involved in car flights with hands -free entry, ensuring that the key is very right next to the car.

Article written with four hands with Castro Vic.

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