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DecaWave Intros Ultra-wideband Active RFID Module

The company says its DWM1000 module can be used to make low-cost tags, supporting real-time location systems that can pinpoint a tag's location within 10 centimeters at a distance of 100 meters or more.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 30, 2014

Companies worldwide are beginning to use a new ultra-wideband (UWB) module known as the DWM1000, designed to be easily built into an active RFID tag, transceiver, machine or electronic shelf for unique, low-cost real-time location system (RTLS) applications. The module, provided by Irish prefabricated chip manufacturer DecaWave, is based on the DW1000 chip that the company released last year after spending nearly a decade developing it. DecaWave was founded in 2004, and the DW1000 chip and the new module that includes it are the company's first products. The DMW1000 module—which, like the DW1000 chip, complies with the IEEE 802.15.4-2011 (UWB PHY) standard—was commercially released today.

The DWM1000 module consists of the DW1000 chip, as well as an antenna, a balun (a signal converter) and passive components (such as resistors and capacitors), in a relatively small form factor: 23 millimeters by 13 millimeters by 2.9 millimeters (0.9 inch by 0.5 inch by 0.1 inch). Users—typically, indoor tracking systems integrators, as well as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)—can build the module into other devices, such as tags used in industrial environments, machinery utilized in manufacturing, or electronic shelf labels within a retail environment. In addition, several automotive manufacturers are exploring the possibility of deploying the modules in new vehicles, for use by customers as a security alternative to other keyless entry systems that thieves have managed to hack.

DecaWave's DWM1000 module
Although there are UWB RTLS solutions already in use, there were several shortcomings with the technology prior to the DW1000 chip's release, says Mickael Viot, DecaWave's marketing manager, which inspired the company's founder to develop a better solution. Ultra-wideband transponders are typically large, requiring multiple components to operate, including their own printed circuit boards. This makes the tags cumbersome for many applications, he explains, as well as high-priced.

DecaWave was interested in developing a technology that would be lower in cost—just a few dollars for a very small chip, or $15 to $30 for a module—and easier to implement, in addition to offering very precise location data in indoor environments. The resultant technology supports time difference of arrival (TDOA) and time of flight (TOF) schemes, enabling a tag's location to be pinpointed in three dimensions within 10 centimeters (3.9 inches). It has a maximum read range of 35 meters to 290 meters (115 feet to 951 feet) with a clear line of sight. Users could employ their own software, which could be provided via a third-party vendor, or they could license software from DecaWave.

Mickael Viot, DecaWave's marketing manager
The DW1000 chip measures 6 millimeters by 6 millimeters (0.2 inch by 0.2 inch). The chip requires very little energy to send transmissions of short range and duration.

"We've integrated all the algorithms into a single chip," Viot says, making it possible for systems integrators or OEMs with an RF engineer on staff to create their own UWB transceiver more easily than would be feasible using other UWB chips that still require a motherboard and multiple components. The DW1000 is already in use by LG Innotek a South Korean firm that builds the chip into lighting-control and building-automation systems (to identify, for instance, when a badged individual enters a room to adjust lighting accordingly) and South Korea Telecommunication (SK Telecom), for tracking patron locations and traffic within museums.

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