Ultra-wideband frequency or UWB is an ultra-low-power, short-range wireless communication technology that uses high frequencies to locate the positions of tagged items in time and space. UWB spreads information across a wide bandwidth (>500 MHz) allowing it to coexist with current radio technologies with minimal or no interference.

While many assume this to be new technology, the first documented use of UWB communication occurred in 1901 by radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi when he used the frequency to transmit Morse code across the Atlantic Ocean. UWB went unused until the 1960s when the U.S. restricted its use to military applications for radar and communication technology. Finally, in 2002, the FCC granted unlicensed use of UWB in radar, public safety, and communications allowing the commercial benefits of the frequency to be fully explored by companies like Redpoint Positioning.

How Does UWB Work?

While conventional radio systems transmit information by varying the power level, frequency, and/or sinusoidal wave phase, UWB generates radio energy at specific time intervals while occupying a larger bandwidth. This allows UWB to send out short pulses of data across its bandwidth enabling pulse-position or time modulation.

To accurately determine the distance between the transmitter and receiver, UWB tracks Time-of-Flight (ToF). ToF is the method used to measure distance based on the time when the signal was transmitted, reflected by the receiver, and returned to the original transmitter.

In addition, UWB simultaneously uses Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) and Angle-of-Arrival to determine the location of the receiver.

The ToF for a UWB system can be determined in one of two ways: Time Difference of Arrival (TDoA) and Two-Way Ranging (TWR).

The most common method of TDoA requires UWB anchors in fixed locations throughout the designated space. Each UWB device transmits and communicates with the anchors in its own communication range. Signals received by the anchors are time-stamped and sent to a central RTLS server. At the server, the data from each anchor is analyzed to determine the differences in signal arrival times. This is then used to calculate each device’s exact coordinates or location within the space. However, some UWB specialists like Redpoint Positioning go about this method differently.

TWR allows transmitting and receiving UWB devices to communicate directly with one another without the need for fixed anchors. When the devices are close to one another, they begin to calculate the ToF between them. This is called ranging and is used to determine their relative positions. TWR is limited as it can only be used to determine the range between two devices at a time. However, since the two devices talk directly to one another, there’s no need to be connected to a network or to operate in a designated space.

Uses and Benefits of UWB

In addition to determining the exact location for a specific device and ranging between two devices, UWB technology tracks movement in real-time, providing you with relative location, direction, speed, and proximity to other devices.

UWB can also operate in both direct line-of-sight (LOS) and non-line-of-sight (Non-LOS) conditions. While more accurate in LOS conditions, UWB is still ideal for difficult indoor locations with multiple obstructions. This allows UWB to be used accurately in locations like hospitals, warehouses, underground mines, and distribution centers.

Because of UWB’s accuracy and real-time tracking, it can be used in a variety of different ways.

  • Vehicle Safety – Track vehicle speed and direction while establishing designated travel areas and geofencing.
  • Personnel Safety – Locate personnel and notify them of potential hazards with screen display warnings.
  • Social Distance Compliance – Help personnel achieve distancing goals with a sensor warning system and provide managers with contact tracing information.
  • Event History – Use location history to identify contact between personnel, vehicles, and other high-value assets.
  • Indoor Navigation – Expedite the journey to a targeted destination.
  • Asset Tracking – Track and manage high-value assets to reduce shrinkage rate and search time.
  • Operation Management – Monitor operations and inefficiencies to improve productivity.
  • Sensor Integration – Associate RTLS and sensor data from connected external devices.

The Redpoint Positioning Solution

By utilizing UWB technology, Redpoint Positioning has created the most accurate, reliable RTLS system to fully connect you to your indoor environment. It’s also the only true low latency solution on the market today.

In addition, Redpoint smart tags have the capability to compute on the edge. That means even without a server or anchors, each tag operates independently giving you continued coverage and more flexibility for your applications.

While other tracking systems are taxed or hampered by crowding, heavy equipment, wide spaces, or speeding motions, our patented technology works in these environments because we embed it into every device on our platform.

Other benefits include:

  • Lowest latency times, even in dense or complex areas.
  • Precise location accuracy up to 10 cm.
  • Virtually unlimited capacity for millions of square feet.
  • Easily integrates into your existing system.
  • Provides full visibility into operational activity.

Find out how we can help you use UWB technology to better manage your operations while keeping your personnel and assets safe. Contact us today for more information.

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