UWB Technology: features and examples of application
The UWB indoor positioning system appeared more than 20 years ago but only recently it has spread to enterprises that require a standardized and unified wireless tool for connecting computer hardware. Using this system, a number of really important tasks can be solved, including:
- reliable data protection;
- high-speed data transmission support;
- object localization;
- energy consumption reduction.
The ultra wide band technology has great potential since its information capacity is significantly higher in comparison with other similar technologies. It can ensure the realization of more high-performance wireless networks with enhanced bandwidth.
What is the UWB (UltraWideBand) technology?
The UWB technology is based on a wireless communication technology which allows transmitting data at short distances with low energy consumption. UWB is characterized by a wide radio-frequency range so users can quickly send a huge volume of information by wireless means.
Computers and peripheral devices require a high-speed interface but using Bluetooth and Standard 802.11 does not always help reach the set goals. The main disadvantage of such protocols is a small bandwidth (on average – up to 19 Mbits/sec), which is irrational for the applications that require high-rate transmission rates. By contrast, UWB copes better with the functions of fast data transfer and works best for Wi-Fi connection of computers and office equipment.
The examples of using the technology are monitoring staff location in offices, ensuring personnel safety in logistics and production. Thanks to UltraWideBand, an employer can ensure the security of property and increase the level of employee protection. Moreover, UWB is considered a key technology in the process of digitalization of production and logistics. Thanks to this technology, production facilities, warehouses, and technological processes can be easily digitized.
In 2020 the technology proved to be effective in solving the tasks of social distancing and monitoring the spread of Covid-19. UWB is used in wearable devices (watches, badges, etc.) that send notifications about the necessity to keep the distance if you come too close to another person. Also, the system allows tracking contacts and, in case of infecting a person, it can easily identify those who have contacted him.
UWB technical characteristics
UWB-signals are identified as any other signals with the spectrum width of more than 500 MHz and the range from 3.1 to 10.6 GHz. They are weak enough (41.5 dBm/ MHz) so they don’t require licensing at the State Commission on the radio frequency spectrum. The standard can be used in different spheres – from household (for connecting a computer with a smartphone, a video-camera, a scanner, etc.) to governmental institutions and medical (UWB radars to diagnose respiratory and cardiac activity in patients, etc.).
The key features of UltraWideBand signal transmission are the following:
- high protection from interference;
- reliable communication at multipath radio wave propagation;
- possibility for a signal to go easily through obstacles;
- protection from interception;
- electromagnetic compatibility.
The implementation of the technology does not require the compliance with the condition of straight visibility it is carried out using only some external elements. The UWB RTLS (real time locating system) is a low-cost technical solution ensuring the installation of UWB tracking devices (trackers) with small resolution up to 50 sm.
Advantages and disadvantages of the UWB technology
At present, the ultra wideband technology has high prospects for development. It is supposed to be widely used in the nearest future in the mass market and help in realizing many business solutions. It is caused by the variety of advantages that distinguishes this system from similar ones:
- absence of restrictions in HF-spectrum availability;
- possibility of simultaneous support of hundreds of channels;
- wide range of scalability by speed;
- simultaneous performance as a global, local and personal network;
- global compatibility of devices that use the radio-frequency spectrum;
- high data protection due to the signal power at the noise level;
- spectral flexibility;
- high-accuracy ultrawide band localization and object tracking;
- possibility of creating an individual communication network that will peacefully coexist with other Wi-Fi technologies in the office.
The technology has not only advantages but also some disadvantages. Because of the wide band and high power, ultra wide band signals can impede already existing systems and communication lines. UWB differs in short signal duration. Such signals can be detected by a matched filter or autocorrelation device but in this situation the reception can be difficult to synchronize.
Leaving aside the drawbacks, it’s clear that the UWB system is more promising in comparison with the active RFID, Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies. Its development in future is justified by the issues of security, high speed, data transmission accuracy and possibility to save energy.