Why ultra-wideband (UWB) and omlox?

What is UWB?

UWB technology (aka ultra-wideband or ultraband) has been around for many years, but until just a few years ago, it was still a niche technology and only adopted by a small number of pioneering companies. Recent market growth numbers show a steep increase in UWB’s success. 2022 saw continued adoption of the technology that is well on its way to becoming the worldwide standard. The following years will be the time where UWB will prove to be the key wireless technology for accurate indoor positioning and location-based services. It is obvious that UWB is here to stay and that RTLS (real-time location system) will become its game-changing industry sponsor.

The time when a UWB signal is sent can be determined precisely. This makes the technology predestined for use in industrial environments.

A short history of UWB

The origins of UWB go back to the 1880s when the Spark Gap Transmitter was invented and later improved to send the first radio transimission across the Atlantic Ocean. Next, the impulse-based wideband radio technology RADAR was developed to determine the range, angle, and velocity of objects mainly for military applications as location finding and communication technology. It is the ultra-wideband’s unique ability to deliver location data that continued to spark the interest in UWB systems. Apple became the first to embrace UWB in consumer electronics to provide positioning data in its iPhone 11. While a handful of smartphone manufacturers have embedded UWB today, including Samsung and Xiaomi, the new UWB disciples can be found in Industry 4.0 solutions.

What are the application fields?

The main UWB feature is its highly accurate location tracking, up to 10cm precise, even in challenging indoor environments which makes it ideally suited to enable real-time measurement of location, distance, and direction, while also supporting twoway communication. There are two main UWB application fields:

  • 1. peer-to-peer infrastructure-less solutions like the Apple AirTags and UWB car keys for hands-free access control, which connect UWB devices without the need for infrastructure, and
  • 2. infrastructured solutions for robust location tracking in well-defined areas. This article will focus on location-based service applications that require infrastructure and the 7 trends that define their success

What are the benefits of UWB?

Ultra Accurate 

UWB can provide location data up to 10cm precise and makes it the best candidate for indoor tracking solutions that require high precision. Additionally, with low latency and high data rate traffic characteristics, UWB creates a compelling alternative to e.g. Bluetooth.

Ultra Low Power

Since UWB requires ultra-short airtime and is eminently a low-power wireless communication technology, it is ideally suited for battery-operated mobile tracking. The low radiation power furthermore has the positive side effect, that other non-UWB radio devices are not disturbed, since UWB signals blend in in the existing noise floor.

Ultra Robust

UWB offers high performance in noisy environments and is immune to interference in hostile condutions. Whereas narrowband radio reflections add up to a single unprecise signal, the ultra-short UWB pulses can still be distinguished when reflected. This makes UWB very robust in industrial or professional environments with many reflective metallic surfaces.

Ultra Low Cost

UWB’s low-processing and efficient power consumption enable affordable solutions and infrastructure. As UWB becomes more popular, the overall solution price will further erode when volumes go up and the market economics enter into competition.

Ultra Interoperable

Standardization bodies are in place to guarantee interoperability, boosting acceptance and market adoption.

Ultra Future Proof

Recognized by the big brands and backed by standards, UWB comes with built-in trustworthiness.

UWB at a glance

UWB works like a GPS on steroids that embodies all required features to make it the technology of choice for RTLS solutions. UWB is the most precise location technology available and offers by far the best solution for industrial use cases. RTLS solutions based on UWB track anything in manufacturing and beyond - people, assets, equipment, and vehicles - to analyze workflows, optimize efficiency and increase security.

UWB & the omlox core zone

The omlox core zone works in conjunction with open interfaces and ultra-wideband (UWB) technology. On the one side, the omlox air-interface connects products (e.g. AMRs) and infrastructure (e.g. satellites). On the other side, the omlox hub API connects the core zone with the hub. Interoperability allows companies to easily network all omlox-enabled UWB products, regardless of the manufacturer.