Precise indoor location systems have been under constant development & evolution since the early 1950s and it still hasn’t stopped. So, in this conquest for perfecting the science of precise indoor locating, we’ve now reached an era of the latest and best (for now, of course) technology in delivering the most precise indoor location information possible and that is Ultra-wide Band, UWB as an abbreviation.
While iBeacon-based Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology is very popular today, being used widely with smartphone applications that deliver location-specific automatically to a user indoor or outdoors; Beacons are really nice as most devices have Bluetooth receiver module and can communicate effortlessly with the beacons. But here’s the catch, they do have certain drawbacks in terms of accurate positioning and latency.
To give a sneak peek from Pinmicro’s R&D, the hardware used for UWB is very similar if not almost identical to the regular BLE beacons and sensors that we all know and love but the main difference lies in the concept and technology of how UWB works. Just like BLE, UWB has Tags (think of UWB’s version of beacons) and Anchors (think of UWB’s version of sensors). The best part is UWB installations are far easier to set up than BLE. This allows for a whole new level of accuracy by up to even 20cm or less, which is a huge leap from the 1m accuracy offered by BLE. In addition to this, UWB opens up new concepts of tracking that calculate distances based on the signal’s “Time of Flight” (ToF) or “Time Difference of Arrival” (TDoA) which allows you to even track objects and people in a 3D space!!
While all of this sounds amazing, we could say there is a certain level of uncertainty that seems to loom among the general public. Luckily, since the world has started realising the potential of UWB and its applications, we will see more solutions and products powered with UWB technology in the very near future (especially from Pinmicro) as the prices of hardware and software for UWB are rapidly decreasing. Though the lack of UWB hardware on the smartphone is still not that great, we’ve seen companies like Apple and Samsung taking the first steps in the UWB bandwagon by introducing UWB chips in the iPhone 11 series and Galaxy S21 series and above respectively. This is a welcome move as more companies will quickly follow suit.
With all this being said, the future is bright for UWB solutions and Pinmicro as a company is dedicated to leading the way into the UWB revolution.