Ultra-Wideband will drive the future of seamless mobility

Over the past few decades, wireless technologies have drastically transformed the way we communicate, not only with other people but also with multiple devices, that have become an integral part of our lives over the years. From phones to wearable devices, from our cars to our electrical appliances, wireless technologies are changing the way we use and communicate with these machines.

With rapid evolution of wireless technologies, today we have reached a point where wireless connectivity is bringing in a wave of transformation across sectors. Ultra-wide band, one of the youngest cousins of the wireless tech family, can provide precise, secure, real-time localization capabilities unrivaled by other wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.  Interestingly, UWB dates back to the times of radio when spark-gap transmitters were used in transatlantic radio communication. The technology evolved considerably in the mid20th century mainly in the U.S. As it proved to be useful both as a radar and a communication technology, UWB was restricted to military applications from the 1960s till late 90s. But over the last few years, technology companies have been working towards finding new use cases for the technology.

Through UWB, one can transmit large amounts of digital data for comparatively shorter distances over a wide spectrum of frequency bands. Chunks of data can be carried over a distance up to 230 feet at a very low power of not more than 0.5 milliwatts but they have the power to overcome obstacles in their path such as doors and walls that tend to reflect signals. But today, UWB implementation can help deliver unprecedented accuracy, even in crowded, multipath signal environments with numerous walls, people, and other obstacles. In fact, industry estimates suggest that the UWB market is expected to be worth USD 85.4 Million by 2022, at a CAGR of around 5.2%.

Revolutionizing the mobility

Technology and automotive companies are today working with organizations like Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) and Institute of Electricals and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to ensure the finest customer experiences at the intersection of the vehicle, mobile, and consumer devices, while leveraging UWB technology. Recently, NXP also collaborated with BMW and Continental, to enable a global standard for handsfree smart access with precise, secure and real-time localization capabilities based on Ultra-Wideband and introduced NCJ29D5, a new automotive Ultra-Wideband chip capable of turning smartphones into car keys.

Now the above, is the latest development in the semiconductor industry, the introduction of UWB chip which can transform smartphones into digital and secure car keys while offering the same level of convenience as state-of-the-art key fobs. Users can open and start cars, while leaving their phones in their pockets or bags, and enjoy secure remote parking via smartphone. Furthermore, the new UWB IC brings maximum level of protection against car theft through relay attacks.

In addition, UWB can also enable remote-controlled parking by implementing the autonomous parking of the car on its own through an application, while also assisting in the placement of the car in electric charging stations, on-the-go payments, facilitating car as authorized personnel to enter garage and other buildings, and providing access to friends and relatives via smartphones.

Building the UWB 2.0

What’s exciting is the fact that this is not the end of the line of improvements and developments in and around UWB. Seamless communication between devices and smart homes provide a plethora of opportunities for adopting UWB. The ease and synchronization between the devices can help in making smart homes even smarter, especially with rapid adoption of technologies like Internet of Things. However, in order to make this possible, we need extensive interoperability between several devices which brings in the need of compliance and certification programs.

Today, ultra-wideband has transformed from just a data transmission to a secure ranging technology, having multiple use cases for numerous applications across sectors in the coming times. In fact, we can say that UWB is likely to be a key technology in developing future connected Internet of Things applications.

 

  • Sanjay Gupta, Vice President & India Country Manager – NXP Semiconductors

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