Rohde & Schwarz Shows UWB Support by Joining FiRa Consortium

Article By : Nitin Dahad

Rohde & Schwarz has joined the FiRa Consortium to support efforts towards establishing UWB certification program.

Rohde & Schwarz announced it has joined the FiRa Consortium as an associate member to support efforts towards establishing a certification program for ultra-wideband (UWB) devices.

The UWB standard has been gaining significant traction, especially more so since Apple introduced UWB in its U1 chip back in 2019. The rebirth of UWB means it is being considered for many precision secure access environments, because of its ability to provide centimeter-accurate location measurements. This allows for doors to open when approached with a UWB device or bringing positioning functionality to indoor environments. UWB also features secure device-to-device data communications with very low power requirements. The very wide bandwidth and very low power density make it easy for UWB signals to share spectrum with other narrowband and wideband systems without causing interference.

This precise location capability has also seen UWB deployed in many social distancing applications. For example, one such example is from Lopos, a spin-off of imec and the Ghent University. Last year, it launched a wearable device called SafeDistance. It chose UWB technology over Bluetooth because of its accuracy. The wearable, which weighs 75g and has a battery life of 2-5 days, warns employees through an audible or haptic alarm, when they are violating social distancing guidelines while approaching each other.

But it’s not just for fine ranging or positioning that UWB is being deployed. One Canadian startup has been busy bringing to market UWB-based wireless transceiver chips. Spark Microsystems said UWB allows it to address latency issues in short-range wireless connectivity applications, such as in headsets for augmented reality, virtual reality and gaming applications. The company said it is for products where link latency hampers a complete real-time immersive experience.

Ensuring interoperability, compliance and certification

Coming back to the Rohde and Schwarz announcement, the test and measurement company collaborates with industry partners to develop UWB test solutions for R&D, certification and production, including essentials like time of flight (ToF) and angle of arrival (AoA) measurements as well as device calibration procedures.

FiRa, short for “fine ranging”, is an organization dedicated to growing the UWB ecosystem by ensuring interoperability between multiple devices through compliance and certification programs. The FiRa Consortium focuses on three core UWB services: hands-free access control, location-based services and device-to-device services that rely on the latest UWB based secure ranging technology specified by the IEEE 802.15.4z.

Alexander Pabst, vice president market segment wireless communications for Rohde & Schwarz, commented, “We at Rohde & Schwarz recognize the power of a secure and reliable UWB technology and are pleased to further strengthen our collaboration with members of the FiRa Consortium to establish a strong certification framework.” The R&S CMP200 radio communication tester from Rohde & Schwarz, for instance, is suited to solving UWB challenges in production as well as in R&D. It combines the capabilities of a signal analyzer and generator in a single instrument.

In combination with the Rohde & Schwarz WMT software service to implement automated wireless manufacturing testing and a wide portfolio of shielded chambers, the R&S CMP200 offers a complete solution for transmitter, receiver, ToF and AoA measurements in conducted and radiated mode, compliant to IEEE 802.15.4a/z specifications. The R&S SMM100A is a midrange vector signal generator covering up to 44 GHz. It is claimed to be the only one in its class to offer a maximum RF modulation bandwidth of 1 GHz, thus meeting the requirements to generate broadband signals used by UWB devices in R&D and production.

This article was originally published on EE Times.

Nitin Dahad is a correspondent for EE Times, EE Times Europe and also Editor-in-Chief of embedded.com. With 35 years in the electronics industry, he’s had many different roles: from engineer to journalist, and from entrepreneur to startup mentor and government advisor. He was part of the startup team that launched 32-bit microprocessor company ARC International in the US in the late 1990s and took it public, and co-founder of The Chilli, which influenced much of the tech startup scene in the early 2000s. He’s also worked with many of the big names – including National Semiconductor, GEC Plessey Semiconductors, Dialog Semiconductor and Marconi Instruments.

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