Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Imec Developed Ultra-Wideband Micro-Location Technology

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Imec developed an extremely accurate and energy-efficient solution for micro-positioning.

Knowing the precise location of devices is becoming increasingly important, whether in augmented reality, in connected mobility or in safety solutions. At present, most wireless devices are often still controlled by GPS or Bluetooth. But the precision that is needed is far beyond the reach of GPS or Bluetooth. 

Imec’s ultra-wideband (UWB) technology can pinpoint the location of objects in a space in minute detail. It is a micro-location technology. It is an extremely accurate and energy-efficient solution for positioning.

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“Over the coming years, the use of this technology is set to increase dramatically,” said Christian Bachmann, imec at Holst Center’s Program Manager Ultra-Wideband and Bluetooth Secure Proximity. “The algorithms that the technology uses are getting better and better, and the costs of implementing it into products are getting lower and lower.”

Jason Hillyard, Vice President at Packetcraft, explains. “Imec and Packetcraft are currently working together to integrate Packetcraft’s UWB protocol software on imec’s next-generation UWB chip technology. I myself drive a Tesla and it has an automatic and wireless lock based on Bluetooth and GPS. If I’m three or four meters away, the lock already opens automatically and my daughter, who might be standing next to the car, can open the car door using the handle. Of course, that’s not always ideal. UWB is much more accurate in such a situation and consequently safer.”

The UWB technology works indoors where GPS doesn’t work. “For example, think about a restricted, secure, keyless entry,” says Bachmann. “That’s where technology can make a big difference. Even controlling speakers and other smart devices in your living room is possible, down to a precise level.”

Imec sees its application in augmented reality gaming, robotics, automatic navigation, indoor farming. Moreover, the technology is already being used on a large scale for a few selected applications. Apple first introduced this technology in the iPhone 11 series. Via UWB, the iPhone can accurately search for objects using the AirTag as soon as the UWB module in the iPhone is enabled.

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