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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

In addition, the UWB Alliance will support the interests of UWB companies to prevent encroachment into the 6 GHz band. The FCC has recently proposed extending Wi-Fi broadband up to 6 GHz, for instance. "The goal will be to protect the UWB band for our members," Harrington says, as well as "working with the IEEE 802.19 and 802.11 [a Wi-Fi standard] group to explore possibilities so that we can coexist."

Another goal, Harrington says, is to ensure UWB products can operate in North America, Europe and Asia. "Several of our members have products deployed in all three of those regions," he states. Moreover, the UWB Alliance intends to work with ETSI in Europe, and TGUWB (for which Harrington serves as vice-chairman) to propagate standards based on the existing regulations. "The more commonality there is, the more the market grows."

UWB deployments extend far beyond automotive applications, however. During the coming yearS, Harrington predicts UWB technology may be made available in smartphones and other mobile devices. It could be used for secure payments, as well as for access control, based on the granular location data provided, which could help users to pinpoint where a device is located before a transmission is sent. Millions of devices have been deployed to date, for such use cases as health care, sports management, tool tracking and managing work-in-progress. The benefit of UWB, Harrington says, is in its low-power pulses, which help to ensure security and allow for highly accurate location data to within a few centimeters.

Already, UWB is being used for sports tracking at NFL stadiums with Zebra Technologies (see Kinduct, Zebra Technologies Team up for Football Performance Tool and What You Can Learn From the NFL), as well as for tool tracking at manufacturing sites such as Boeing, where the technology is provided by Ubisense, and for tracking WIP (see VW Slovakia Optimizes Factor Vehicle Movement With RTLS). The technology can also be used to identify where a part is located during assembly, and when it comes within range of an automated tool. Functions such as torque settings can be automatically adjusted in order to match the exact location with its specified settings.

According to Harrington, the UWB Alliance has learned of many other diverse projects that are currently under way by solution providers that partner with chip vendors, though he says he is unable to discuss specific details at this juncture. During the coming year, the group plans to work on defining and proposing interoperability options through multiple industry use cases, defining a testing methodology for interoperability and furthering relationship with recommended test facilities.

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