NXP collaborated with BMW and Continental, to enable a global standard for handsfree smart access with precise, secure, and real-time localization capabilities

UWB technology has precise accuracy to enable complete hands-free interaction with IoT devices: Sanjay Gupta, NXP

This is a new era of intuitive, on-demand applications that are built with secure technologies. Promising to deliver these needs in one way or the other is the Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technology. UWB technology processes are best known for their ability in contextual information application that eases decision making and helps precise device management practices.

Voice&Data recently interacted with Sanjay Gupta, Vice President & India Country Manager, NXP, to discover how NXP’s ultra-wideband (UWB) technology is put to a large use in the COVID-19 times of unlocking and contact tracing and also in establishing contactless interaction with humans and devices.

 Few excerpts:

Voice&Data: To begin with can you share on the several benefits of Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) technology? What is NXP’s expertise in this technology?

 Sanjay Gupta: Ultra-Wideband or UWB is a short-range wireless communication protocol that can provide precise, secure, real-time localization capabilities unrivaled by other wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS.

Although the technology has been with us for decades, its evolution took centerstage recently and is considered to be one of the youngest cousins of the wireless tech family.

Apart from using the technology for communication, we at NXP have leveraged UWB for its localization capabilities. UWB transmits pulse packets at specific time intervals, with which systems can further use the transmitted information to determine the Time-of-Flight (ToF) and directional information.

This enables the system to check the precise location of the transmission by determining distance and Angle-of-Arrival (AoA). Also as a result of transmission in specific time intervals, it prevents the interception and rebroadcasting of the information in what is referred to as a man-in-the-middle (where further encoding the information makes the solution seemingly impregnable to attacks).

To add more, UWB further MITM attack extends its services to both indoor and outdoor environment accurately; whether it is finding out where we parked our car, allow users to unlock doors (with key fob or mobile device), device-to-device communication (locating a particular person), pinpointing other UWB-enabled device or providing secure hands-free experiences to users.

Last year, NXP collaborated with BMW and Continental, to enable a global standard for handsfree smart access with precise, secure, and real-time localization capabilities based on an Ultra-Wideband chip, which can transform smartphones into digital and secure car keys.

Our vision is to extend the technology’s capabilities to demonstrate secure and convenient hands-free experiences to users in the field of smart access to cars and buildings, contactless payments, smart home automation triggered by the presence, smart retail, and item tracking

Our vision is to extend the technology’s capabilities to demonstrate secure and convenient hands-free experiences to users in the field of smart access to cars and buildings, contactless payments, smart home automation triggered by the presence, smart retail, and item tracking. NXP’s innovative solutions empowered by UWB technology has pushed the masses to embrace the Internet-of-Things as they brace themselves for a contactless lifestyle on-the-go in this new normal.

Voice&Data: How is NXP deploying UWB technology to boost the smartphone user experience and how does it make the instrument capable of endless possibilities? NXP has deployed in UWB in Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. How has this changed the smartphone UI and what feedback do you have on the phone’s UX?

The pandemic has made the world realize that smartphones will pave the way in a world full of digital possibilities. The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra embarks the first UWB-enabled Android device leveraging a plethora of applications and services for smartphones as the world moves forward with full speed in adopting digital life.

Apart from the common use of sharing files easier and faster, the UWB chip in smartphones would offer superior location tracking capabilities, allowing the phone to position the user even in a crowded area with numerous signals and obstacles such as walls or others.

The technology is sufficiently accurate to enable fully hands-free interaction with IoT devices such as doors and connected cars, without even having a need to take the smartphone out of the pocket. With AR technology, the device will locate other UWB-equipped things and devices more accurately and holds the potential to unlock homes and doors through the digital keys. With UWB, we can even program a car to automatically unlock and turn on the ignition whenever the owner’s phone is in their pocket.

A whole wide range of applications can be accessed through UWB-enabled smartphones, such as sharing files in a go through the ‘Nearby Share’ application, ‘SmartThings Find’ application that utilizes AR effects to track items in real-time, and lastly the ‘Digital Key’ service to unlock smart locks on doors and cars equipped with UWB technology, without using a separate key.

To summarize, UWB-enabled smartphones will provide an automated and intuitive connection experience between multiple smart devices in the future.

Voice&Data: It is believed that UWB opens up several contactless opportunities for a post COVID world. What are those and how can this serve the society?

 Sanjay Gupta: COVID-19 has changed the way we live and has further encouraged us to leverage technology for social welfare. Even as the nation is planning to come back to normal routines following the unlock guidelines by the government, the fear of contracting COVID-19 continues to exist.

Times such as these have encouraged technological aspirants to level up their game and demonstrate use cases and applications where UWB can be leveraged fruitfully for the collective good of society

Even in its infancy, UWB’s potential is vast and far from being exhausted. One highly relevant use case featuring UWB is social distancing and contact tracing. As organizations devise a strategy on how to safely return to work, they also need to establish guidelines for social distancing.

A wearable sensor with UWB technology will warn an employee when they get too close to anyone. With UWB built into portable devices, it is expected to provide a true contactless experience in the post COVID world. The technology can further be leveraged for patient monitoring to check if the patient is in bed, standing, walking along with his/her vital signs – all of it without even being physically present.

Moving forward, UWB could be an essential part of digitizing production and logistics as well. Due to its high precision, speed and reliability, the technology could help seamlessly digitize warehouses, shop floors, and process chains, stabilizing internal processes and optimizing productivity. In addition to that, its capabilities in empowering smart appliances ecosystem are simply infinite.

Voice&Data: Future mobility solutions rely on highly efficient communication systems. Where does UWB find itself useful in this?

Sanjay Gupta: Leading technology companies are today working with organizations like Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) and the FiRa Consortium to ensure the finest customer experiences at the intersection of the vehicle, mobile, and consumer devices while leveraging UWB technology. Adding spatial context to devices, UWB is perhaps one of the only tech that can protect the car against relay theft protection.

At NXP, we introduced a UWB chip that 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 the garage and other buildings, and providing access to friends and relatives via smartphones.

Voice&Data: India, by the day, is undergoing rapid digital transformation. How has NXP developed UWB to suit Indian economic and social conditions?

Sanjay Gupta: As India opens further, few things are going to change forever and UWB can help us in adapting to this new normal. For instance, technology can help in monitoring COVID patients, as the number of new COVID cases spike across the country.

UWB is also a very effective and secure technology for surveillance purposes, that can further empower the law enforcement agencies in the country.

In a nutshell, we can say that UWB is going to enable a smarter & more secure ecosystem in India and across the globe, not only for personal but for large scale deployment as well.

Sanjay Gupta is the Vice President and India Country Manager at NXP Semiconductors and leads the organization’s business in India while ensuring local compliance with both, government and corporate programs & policies. He is also spearheading three diverse R&D locations (Noida, Bangalore and Hyderabad) comprising nearly 2,000 employees and representing all NXP product groups. Additionally, Sanjay is the Automotive Business Unit lead for NXP India and Chairs the Innovation board across global organizational units. He is also a member of IESA Executive Council which is highest Apex body for Indian Electronics & Semiconductors Association. 

(Anusha Ashwin: x-anushaa@cybermedia.co.in)

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