UWB: Pros and Cons of Ultra-Wideband Technology

UWB: Pros and Cons of Ultra-Wideband Technology

Ultra-Wideband or UWB technology is a wireless communication protocol that uses electromagnetic radiation within the very high frequency or VHF range of the electromagnetic spectrum for short-range and high-bandwidth wireless communication.

Communication systems based on UWB use bandwidth that is several times greater than the minimum required to transmit data. The use of excess bandwidth is the defining characteristic of ultra-wideband technology.

The technology enables the transmission of a large amount of energy signal without interfering with standard narrowband channels used in other wireless communication systems and carrier signals used by telco operators in the same frequency band.

A Note On the Difference of UWB Technology with Other Radio-Based Communication Technologies

Most radio communication technologies and systems work by modulating either the amplitude or signal strength such as in AM radio, the frequency such as in FM radio, and the phase such as phase-shift keying in Bluetooth. Modulation defines how a particular wireless technology carries information over the air.

Other technologies use a combination of modulation techniques. Ultrawide-band technology is quite different. Rather than modifying an electromagnetic wave, it primarily works by modifying and sending short pulses at about 2 nanoseconds apart.

Pros: Advantages and Applications of Ultra-Wideband Technology for Wireless Communication

Applications of UWB technology includes real-time location systems for locating devices or pairing two or more smart devices, giving these devices spatial awareness, wireless data transfer, support for Internet of Things implementation, support for augmented reality, digital contactless keys used in security systems, and synthetic aperture radar technology and automatic target recognition in military communication technologies.

Below are the advantages of UWB technology:

• Minimal power requirements make it ideal for environments or situations that are sensitive to radiofrequency such as hospitals

• Ideal technology for use in radar systems because of its capability to penetrate objects, produce high-resolution scans, and detect threats such as buried explosives and hidden adversaries at a safe distance

• Compared to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, ultra-wideband technology is inherently more precise in locating devices or objects, thus expanding the applications of smart devices and supporting the implementation of interconnected smart systems and IoT

• Accuracy comes from the fact that it can update its position about 10 times per second and locate objects with a margin of as small as 5 millimeters compared to the 1-meter margin of Bluetooth technology

• Research showed that this technology delivers greater accuracy in both line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight scenarios, better angel-of-arrival implementation, and better security through support for time-of-flight measurement

• The use of higher frequencies and larger bandwidth make it less prone to interferences normally seen in overcrowded bands used by other communication systems.

Cons: Disadvantages and Limitations of Ultra-Wideband Technology for Wireless Communication

The advantage of ultra-wideband technology essentially centers on its use of excess bandwidth on top of having low system power consumption, simple structure or operational principle, and low cost of implementation. It has been integrated into consumer electronic devices such as the iPhone devices from Apple and Galaxy smartphones from Samsung due to its potential applications. However, it has notable drawbacks and limitations.

Below are the disadvantages of UWB technology:

• Tags for UWB-based location and pairing system are more expensive than tags used in other technologies such as Bluetooth and RFID

• It cannot replace Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies for large data transfers because of its low data transmission rate, thus making it unsuitable for streaming large data

• The technology supports carrierless transmission. However, transmitting data or signal without a carrier has the following disadvantages: complex signal processing, inapplicability of super-resolution beamforming, and antenna form factor

• It still has the potential to interfere with existing systems since it uses a spectrum that is also allocated for various military, civilian, and commercial applications

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