Introduction to UWB wireless technology

Introduction to UWB wireless technology

Introduction to UWB wireless technology One of the relatively unknown features of the flagship phone Galaxy Note20 Ultra , UWB (abbreviated Ultra-Wide Band) technology. This smartphone is next to the iPhone 11 are the first phones equipped with this wireless communication standard. UWB is a new technology in the mobile market that is presented as a competing standard for communication technologies such as NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and provides users with similar capabilities along with their own advantages and disadvantages. Since the use of this technology in smartphones will increase in the coming years, we will have a look at some of its features.

What is UWB and how does it work?

UWB or “Ultra Wide Band” is not a new technology and the United States Federal Communications Commission has issued a license to use this technology in the United States for the first time in 2002. The performance of “Ultra Wideband” is very similar to other wireless data transmission technologies. In this method, which is based on the radio pulse pattern, data is sent in time frames and in the frequency spectrum of 3.1 and 10.6 GHz. In fact, in the common methods of wireless data transmission, not only simple pulses are used, but also changes in the amount of energy consumption, frequency and (or) phase of the sine wave are used to encode the data.

Pulse method uses a wider range for reliable operation and it is named as “ultra wide band” technology for this reason. A frequency band typically covers a range of 500 MHz, which is wider than the 5-20 MHz range of 4G LTE or 20-80 MHz of Wi-Fi. Because of this wide frequency spectrum, pulsed data can be transmitted very quickly without loss of accuracy. Hence, UWB can transmit data at rates of 4 to 675 Mbps or more, depending on the frequency. The speed is far from the rate of 424 kbps NFC and 2.1 Mbps in the Bluetooth standard; However, it is still not comparable to the speed of 2 Gbps in Wi-Fi 6 technology.

Wireless technologies are limited to low bandwidth bands to avoid possible interference with each other. But in UWB, this problem is avoided by operating at very low power, which is at the noise floor of other wireless methods. In other words, the frequency spectrum in this technology is so wide that it is easy to identify, although it is at a very low level in terms of power consumption and does not interfere with other signals.

Another advantage of this pulse-based transmission method is that it enables the calculation of time-of-flight from the received data. If the time and speed of the transmitted data are known, then the distance between the sender and the receiver can be easily determined. However, obtaining the exact 2D or 3D position of the data will be quite complicated. The measurement accuracy of UWB is about 10 cm or less, which is a significant improvement over the 1 meter accuracy of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, making it a good choice for security applications (although Bluetooth 5.1 has the same accuracy as UWB at some distances). has it).

UWB technology has many uses in terms of application, relying on its location accuracy in the field of security of entry and remote car door. In addition, this technology can be used to find lost devices, NFC-style tags, indoor navigation, mobile payments, and communication with nearby connected objects in a store. As mentioned, UWB is currently in Airdrop Apple and Galaxy Note20 Ultra from Samsung in order to transfer large files and It is widely used, but this is only a limited part of the capabilities of this technology.

UWB compared to NFC and Bluetooth

The reason for the similarity of UWB application with other wireless data transmission methods is that most of the capabilities of this technology are also seen in NFC and Bluetooth. Now the question is, despite the existing technologies, why should we bother ourselves for another new technology?

Bluetooth works in the 2.4 GHz frequency band, which is a suitable range for home use. However, this band is in the same spectrum where some Wi-Fi signals operate and this causes the possibility of interference. By choosing the wide range of UWB, this possibility is reduced and therefore the first cases of application of this new technology have occurred in the industry, however, its range is short and not as long as Bluetooth. On the other hand, NFC is able to operate in the 13.56 MHz band, but its spatial range is very short, only 4 cm.

One of the advantages of older technologies such as NFC and Bluetooth is that their implementation is done at a low cost; This is especially possible in low-power transmitters and low-power NFC tags. UWB is less cost-effective compared to them and requires more power. As a result, NFC will not be replaced by any contactless payment method anytime soon. On the other hand, Bluetooth’s range of support, audio-related capabilities, and longer range mean it can do things that UWB technology can’t. Therefore, these two older technologies will continue to be present in devices for various use cases.

Of course, “ultra-wide band” shows its superiority when high-rate data transmission, accuracy and speed in positioning and (or) reducing the risk of interference are considered. Such requirements make the new technology the best option for increasing the level of data transmission security used in cases such as remote access to vehicles. In fact, like other methods, UWB has its own advantages and disadvantages and cannot directly replace existing wireless technologies in the market.

Smartphones that support UWB

Although superfast band technology has been on the market for some time, only a limited number of smartphones have been equipped with it so far. In fact, some of the most expensive phones on the market including the iPhone 11 series include iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max next to Galaxy Note20 Ultra are the only products that currently support this technology.

The quality of UWB performance is at the same level as the devices that support it, and it will be many more years before the ubiquitous technology covers all available applications. It is expected that smartphones manufactured by other companies will soon support this technology at the level of flagship products; However, mid-range and affordable smartphones still have a long way to go before using “Ultra Wideband” technology.

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