It is no doubt that ultra-wideband is an exciting development in the wireless technology space. Its precise locational accuracy and various properties are providing some interesting benefits to a range of varied applications, and it is likely to expand even more in the coming years. Leading companies like BMW and Apple have already implemented it into their respective industries, with other companies soon to follow.
One of the key features of Ultra-wideband that provides its interesting features is in the name; the wide frequency band in which it operates on. In order to integrate this new wireless technology, device designers need to understand the specific features around its wide frequency and bandwidth range.
What is ultra-wideband (UWB)?
Ultra-wideband is a revolutionary new wireless technology that demonstrates precise locational properties. It can transmit data of up to 1 Gbps and has pinpoint locational accuracy within a single centimetre. In comparison, other locational wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have locational accuracy within metres instead of centimetres.
The name Ultra-wideband derives from the wide frequency range of 3.1 to 10.6 GHz and wide channel bandwidths of 500 MHz that it operates on. It functions through sending out short pattern based pulses between a transmitter and receiver; the receiver is able to pinpoint exactly where the receiver is from these waves in real-time, as opposed to other pinpoint locational services like GPS & GNSS that have a TTFF (Time Till First Fix).
How does a wide frequency range affect UWB?
The wide frequency range and channel bandwidth of UWB brings various properties that enable its locational accuracy amongst other features.
Free of interference
The use of narrow pulses found in UWB results in a transmission that exhibits a wide bandwidth, hence the channel bandwidth of 500 MHz. This wide bandwidth enables the wireless technology to operate effectively in the presence of multi-path reflections. Multi-path reflections refers to the same RF signal being reflected from multiple surfaces and causing interference. With UWB, this interference does not affect the performance of the wireless technology. Industrial applications can find this effective as they often contain reflective services that can interfere with wireless technologies.
The wide frequency range of 3.1 to 10.6 GHz accompanied by the 500 MHz channel bandwidth means that UWB has a greatly reduced sensitivity to narrowband interference from devices within the same bandwidths. The signal of UWB is also strong and reliable from the wide bandwidth, where applications such as smart homes can support a large number of receivers due to a single transmitter being able to deliver a considerable amount of data.
The above factors of reliable connectivity and lack of interference give UWB strong protections against signal hijacking and interception. A further advantage of UWB’s frequency range is that it is immune to security breaches such as relay attacks.
Relay attacks are used against other wireless locational connections that use signal strength as an indicator for distance. Relay attacks can intercept these signals and amplify them, causing the receiver to believe the transmitter is in another location. With UWB, the wide frequency range and device to device connection makes it difficult to intercept these signals in the first place. But, if it is intercepted, the precise locational measurements of the pulses mean the receiver doesn’t have to make assumptions and clearly knows if it is a real transmitter or not.
This feature is used in the automotive industry to make wireless keys that unlock as you approach the vehicle extremely secure and reliable.
Integrating ultra-wideband into devices
Due to the varying applications and wide frequency spectrum UWB operates on, it can be difficult to integrate into a design. To help improve adoption of the application of UWB technologies and antennas, a consortium of leading brands has been created by FiRa. The consortium consists of leading companies such as Samsung, Google, Apple and more, and is leading the way in creating an industry ecosystem where the integration, specification and deployment of UWB technologies are simpler and more streamlined.
Antenova offers a wide range of resources on antenna selection and placement that can help streamline the process of UWB integration for your device design. Find out more about how UWB can benefit your design by reading our content below or using our integration hub.