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UWB Alliance Aims for Interoperability

The new organization, which includes technology companies and end users among its members, intends to promote interoperable standards while working to ensure co-existence with W-Fi standards.
By Claire Swedberg

The efforts to standardize began in 2017, when automotive companies started meeting with UWB technology firms to discuss the global use of UWB technology in key fobs for vehicle locks. Access-control company 3db Technologies, located in Switzerland, was among the first businesses to seek enhancements to the 802.15.4 standard for UWB. Semiconductor firm Decawave soon joined in, promoting enhancements of its own.

Decawave helped to launch the Alliance in an effort to improve interoperability by establishing the PHY or MAC layers that enable systems to speak with each other. "We wanted to help build the framework needed to provide interoperability," says Mickaël Viot, Decawave's marketing VP. "We were seeing manufacturers designing their own solutions that couldn't talk to each other," he adds, and that inhibits growth in the UWB and IoT industries. The best way to accomplish interoperability was through industrial alliances, Viot adds. "To achieve large-scale, high-volume deployments you need network interoperability—and to get that, you need alliances."

The effort grew beyond the automotive and access-control sectors, Harrington recalls, and other companies began joining the conversation, including smartphone handset manufacturers and technology firms like Apple. Members of the group then opted to form and incorporate the UWB Alliance, which now includes 3db, as well as other published members: UWB microphone technology company Alteros; UWB solutions providers Decawave, Ubisense and Zebra Technologies; automotive manufacturers Hyundai and Kia; and impulse radar sensor company Xethru (formally known as Novelda). Coming onboard this month are robotics company iRobot and automotive components manufacturer Denso. According to Harrington, other members have opted not to have their names published.

The group is currently creating technical and marketing committees and working groups with members worldwide. "Interoperability is key to having a market grow," Harrington states. He likens the UWB Alliance to the Wi-Fi Alliance, which has created a standard by which 802.11 devices can interact with each other.

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