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Startup to Deliver Standards-Compliant UWB RTLS

DecaWave, a startup in Dublin, announced ScenSor, an ultra-wideband (UWB) RTLS system based on the IEEE 802.15.4a standard. DecaWave claims the technology provides 10-centimeter accuracy and can locate 11,000 items in a 20-meter radius. Production is set to start in 2010, but prototypes will be delivered this December.
Sep 30, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

September 30, 2008—DecaWave said this week it would deliver prototypes of IEEE 802.15.4a standard ultra-wideband (UWB) real-time location system (RTLS) chips to five customers this December. DecaWave, a startup semiconductor manufacturer in Dublin, is believed to be the first vendor to announce an 802.15-standard RTLS chip. All UWB-based RTLS systems currently on the market use proprietary, non-standard technology.

DecaWave does not expect to begin production of its new ScenSor chip until January, 2010. The privately-held company made its announcement at the RFID Europe 2008: Investment Summit being held this week in London, where the company is meeting with potential customers and investors. CEO Ciaran Connell told RFID Update by phone from the event that the company announced the product more than a year before it is scheduled to go into production because it wants to make the industry aware of its development efforts.

IEEE 802.15.4a was developed as an alternative or replacement for the ZigBee low-power, short range networking standard. DecaWave says 802.15.4a technology will enable superior RTLS performance. It says its new ScenSor can be used to locate up to 11,000 items in a 20-meter radius with 10-centimeter accuracy. The leading companies offering UWB-based RTLS systems today are Multispectral Solutions (MSSI), Time Domain and Ubisense. They quote system precision ranging from 10 centimeters to 12 inches, and each uses its own proprietary technology.

"Our market is RTLS, but we see the technology expanding the RTLS space," Connell said. "The product is designed to be integrated into mesh. We envision it being embedded into wireless LAN access points or ZigBee nodes, but we could even see it going into mobile phones."

DecaWave is staffed with 13 engineers and has sufficient funding to complete its current development cycle, Connell said. CTO Michael McLaughlin founded the company in 2004 after working on IEEE UWB standardization at another company.

Industry research and consulting firm IDTechEx recently said ISO standards could lead to UWB-based network deployments, which would in turn help UWB gain a strong share of the RTLS market (see Innovation to Drive Strong RTLS Adoption). RTLS users and prospects like the precision that UWB provides, but the lack of interoperable, standardized products has hindered adoption.

For an overview of the UWB RTLS industry, see UWB Finding a Place in the RTLS Market.
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