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Definition: UWB


(1) (Ultra WideBand) A branding for high-frequency 5G cellular service. See 5G UWB.

(2) (Ultra-WideBand) A wireless technology that uses less power and provides higher speed than Wi-Fi and first-generation Bluetooth products. Governed by the WiMedia Alliance, UWB is geared for home theater video, auto safety and navigation, medical imaging and security surveillance. See Bluetooth.

More Precise Location Detection
In 2019, Apple's iPhone 11 debuted with UWB to improve its AirDrop wireless sharing. Built into Apple's U1 chip, UWB can pinpoint the location of another iPhone more precisely than Bluetooth. See AirDrop and AirTag.

Unlock Your Car
A UWB-enabled phone and car app may eventually be able to unlock your car as you approach it. UWB could also make it easier to find a rental car in the parking lot.

Pulse Radio
Unlike other radio transmission, UWB does not use a continuous carrier frequency. It transmits extremely short pulses, and the durations between pulses use no power. One method transmits the pulses in continuously varying time slots based on a pseudo-random number sequence like CDMA. The other divides the spectrum into smaller frequency bands that can be added and dropped as necessary.

UWB Sees Through Walls
Because UWB can transmit through materials that would bounce other radio signals, it is also used to locate objects behind barriers or buried underground. First invented by Gerald Ross at Sperry Rand Corporation in the late 1960s, UWB has been used by the military for various radar systems. In 1998, the FCC allowed UWB for police work and fire fighting. In 2002, it sanctioned the technology at considerably lower power for commercial use in the 3.1-10.6 GHz frequency range. See WiMedia Alliance, 802.15 and GPR.

              Max.   Freq.   Indoor
  Wireless   Speed   Range   Range
  Type       (Mbps)  (GHz)   (ft.)

  UWB         480   3.1-10.6   33

  Bluetooth
  BT 1.2       1     2.4      330
  BT 2.0       3     2.4      330

  Wi-Fi
  802.11b     11     2.4      150
  802.11g     54     2.4      170
  802.11a     54     5         95
  802.11n    600     2.4/5    230
  802.11ac  6770     5        230