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Ultra Wide-Band (UWB) Technology

Is UWB useful in indoor positioning?

About UWB Positioning Technology

Ultra wide-band (UWB) is one of the most recent indoor positioning technologies to emerge. Prior to UWB Positioning, there were similar technologies referred to as base-band, impulse, and carrier-free technology.

UWB or ultra-wide band technology is a short range radio frequency that delivers fast and stable data transmission sent every couple of nanoseconds as a pattern across a wide frequency spectrum of at least 500 MHz. This allows UWB positioning transmitters to transmit large amounts of data while consuming little transmit energy.

How UWB Positioning Works

UWB is a short-range radio technology that precisely pinpoints and measures distance between other UWB equipped devices. It can be used for positioning by utilizing the time difference of arrival (TDOA) or the RF signals to obtain the distance between the reference point and the target.

UWB positioning systems rely on transmitting extremely short pulses and use techniques that cause a spreading of the radio energy (over a wide frequency band) with a very low power spectral density. This high bandwidth offers high data throughput for communication. The low frequency of UWB pulses enable the signal to effectively pass through common objects such as walls, furniture, and other objects.

Challenges With UWB Positioning

Although using very short pulses in UWB has many advantages, the UWB receiver requires signal acquisition, synchronization and tracking to be done with very high precision in time relative to the pulse rate. These steps are time-consuming.

Challenges with the technology:

  • In general, most smart phones do not have UWB receivers, so it is typically only available using specialized hardware which is very expensive
  • Requires external hardware ie. tags
  • Deployment is very difficult in complex building structures
  • May cause harmful interference to GPS and aircraft navigation radio equipment

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