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UWB has the ability to measure relative location of devices to levels of accuracy unmatched by any other wireless technology. When combined with highly secure, unique identifiers, it can even protect vehicles from unauthorized access via two-factor authentication. A UWB enabled car can detect the presence of its owner, verify his identity and ensure that the communication between two objects, such as a car and its keys, is denied if the distance between them goes beyond a pre-defined threshold. This makes any fraud access really hard to perform if not impossible.

People also become more concerned about UWB used for background location tracking on their iPhones. The management of ultra-wideband use of location data is done entirely on the device. The location of the device is not collected by Apple, but locally by the iPhone itself.

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Ulta Wideband Use Cases

With precise ranging, UWB has an advantage in both precision and security over Bluetooth and WiFi and that advantage can be used in many different usecases. Based on FiRa Consortium initial focus is on three primary categories of use cases: hands-free access control; location-based services; and device-to-device (peer-to-peer) applications:
Smart Car Access - unlock a car with a smartphone as soon as you approach it for keyless entry and remote start.
Secure Wireless Payments - it’s more secure than NFC and you can leave your smartphone in a pocket.
Secure Building Access - Automatically open doors to a secure area within a building once you approach them.
Smart Retail - provide useful information about a product you just picked up or special offer for buying one.
Asset Tracking - Boeing uses UWB tags to track more than 10,000 tools, carts and other items on its vast factory floors.
Sports & Fitness Tracking - NFL is already tracking players on a field for instant replay animations with UWB transmitters in each shoulder pad. A football's location is updated 2,000 times per second.
Wearable Health Sensors - Biometric UWB bracelet that monitors body temperature, oxygen saturation levels, body movement, heart-rate 24 hours a day.
Medical Radars - UWB pulses can be used to monitor respiration and heart beat of the person from a distance by reading reflected UWB signals.
Indoor Navigation - Get precise navigation indoor to your gate in the airport or a product on a shelf.
Smart Home - Lights, audio speakers, and any other connected device with UWB sensing capability will be able to follow users from one room to another, for example adjust the volume of a speaker based on where you’re standing or switch Netflix profile to yours.
Warehouse Positioning - Actively track people, machines and equipment indoors, accurate positioning in emergency situations - finding unconscious person.

How much does UWB cost?
Prices for Ultra-wideband kits have started to decline rapidly in recent years. They have reached acceptable level for testing not only in enterprise environments (factory automation, asset-tracking) but also in a much wider consumer environment (retail, office).
Ultra-Wideband two-way ranging evaluation kit from Decawave (MDEK1001) with 12 units costs $299. This kit allows you to deploy a Real Time Location System and evaluate the location performance of UWB technology. Decawave has also launched a BLE/UWB combo module with a built in accelerometer. The price is $25 a unit or less than $12 if you order more 10K quantities.

A complete UWB Beacon Kit from Estimote that consists of two units costs $149 but it is packed with state of the art IoT technologies. It has all the key wireless chips and sensors you need to build the next generation apps for the physical world.
Even smaller and more robust solutions are going to be revealed later this year.

Ultra-WideBand Benefits:
Low Power Consumption - UWB is low power system, which is a key factor for mobile devices in terms of battery life and practical usability. A sensor that sends a pulse once every second is expected to work for seven years off a single coin battery.
High Precision - rather than depending on signal strength, UWB uses ToF (Time of Flight), TWR (Two Way Ranging), TDoA (Time Difference of Arrival), AoA (Angle of Arrival) techniques etc. to determine the distance from another device. With multiple antennas, UWB can also measure the angle the signal is arriving from. A precise angle combined with a precise distance means that your phone can pinpoint an object to a location in space.
No Signal Interference - UWB uses 3.1–10.6GHz frequency so there is limited probability of any signal interference which is often a case with Bluetooth and Wifi.
Ultra Fast - Bluetooth-based location sensing takes at least two seconds to get a fix on your location, UWB is thousand times faster which means that there is no lag and user experience is seamless.

Ultra WideBand Disadvantages
The biggest disadvantage against UWB is that other technologies like Wifi or Bluetooth are able to interact with all today’s smartphones and tablets, whereas UWB is not. But since Apple introduced UWB chip in its iPhone11 in 2019, UWB is expected to get into the mainstream really fast. Other smartphone makers are copying Apple and including UWB in their devices, and more importantly will include integration of UWB in location-aware electronics, wearable devices, and more.

What's Next for UWB?
Currently only the iPhone has a built-in UWB chip but it is just the beginning of an ultra wideband revolution as other smartphone manufacturers are soon going to follow. The first Android smartphones with Ultra Wideband technology will be released later in 2020, according to Barclays analysts. Consumer electronics giants like Samsung and Sony, chipmakers Decawave and NXP, carmakers Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Jaguar Land Rover, and car electronics powerhouse Bosch have all announced their work on new devices that support UWB. Apple has also patented the use of UWB, or ultra wideband, to recognize when you're approaching your car to unlock its doors.
It is also working on its own hardware called AirTags (iTag) that you will be able to attach to an object (like your keychain, wallet, or bag) and with your phone track the object’s location, perhaps even show you the location on-screen using Augmented Reality.

Although Apple supports UWB it has not yet opened the technology for other developers - this means that only apps that Apple created can take advantage of UWB. Enabling open access to UWB chip for all developers is something expected to happen later this year which will create a market of amazing apps powered with UWB location detection. According to Apple, “it’s like adding another sense to iPhone, and it’s going to lead to amazing new capabilities.”
UWB can potentially be used in everything from wireless printers to contactless payments. All this depends on finding that ‘killer app’ or function that makes it worth it. UWB doesn’t necessarily have to replace wifi, NFC, or Bluetooth—it can work with them.

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