For tech-savvy smartphone users, there are a number of technologies and specifications to consider – WiFi, Bluetooth, USB, Near Field Communication (NFC), and more. Now Apple and Samsung have announced a new tech with their latest phones and people are asking: “What is UWB?”
In a press release from Samsung, the company declares that Ultra-Wideband (UWB) will be a “game-changing wireless communication tech.” This is also the reason why the Korean electronics company appears to have invested heavily in said technology.
Ultra-Wideband Communication Tech (UWB)
Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology is a short-range communication protocol that uses low energy to operate over a wide range of the radio spectrum. Samsung explains that this protocol allows for better and more accurate spatial awareness, equipping their new line of phones with better directional capabilities.
“With UWB, it’s possible to have seamless, intelligent connections across devices that can assist with a wide range of needs, from making secure remote payments to locating a missing remote control,” Samsung said in its release.
UWB is a short-ranged wireless communication protocol, just like Bluetooth. However, UWB can support faster data transfer, though its main application is to support location tracking and environment awareness capabilities. A UWB radio system has the ability to determine the “time of flight” of its signal transmission, at different frequencies, allowing its tracking capacities.
Historically, ultra-wideband systems have been used in other applications aside from integration in smartphones. A 2012 study, first published in the IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference Workshops, demonstrated the potential of UWB-RFID with precise localization. It also showed the potential of this tech for location-sensitive sensors.
The Galaxy smartphone manufacturer also shared that they have created a “full-time task force” in charge of working on UWB and integrating it to their products. They also announced with semiconductor company NXP and security provider HID Global to create the FiRa Consortium – a tech nonprofit that promotes the use of UWB for device services and location services – and boasts growing to have 45 member organizations.
An Integral Part of the Next Gen Smartphones
While the UWB has been around for years, it has again surged in popularity – thanks to its compatibility, and potentially game-changing applications, for smart homes. Precise location tracking and communication with other devices raises its potentials for controlling other devices like Amazon Echo or Google Nest speakers, Apple TVs, as well as smart security devices like door locks.
Just last August, Samsung released the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, which is the first Android smartphone that uses UWB technology. Even its foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Fold2, has the same technology. For the latest Samsung products, Ultra-Wideband will be used for increased precision in using the Nearby Share – a feature that allows its users to connect to other Android devices and share photos, apps, and files almost instantly.
Another interesting feature for Samsung users with the UWB protocol is its upgraded SmartThings Find. Users of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra and Z Fold2 can now find their other Galaxy devices with an augmented reality visual display. Users can see the exact direction, distance, and location, thanks to Ultra-Wideband technology.
Back in September 2019, Apple unveiled its iPhone 11 series with UWB capabilities, soon followed by the Apple Watch Series 6. Similarly, it is used in file sharing as well as in locating other linked devices, with Apple claiming that their detection and linking capabilities will be limited between its own devices.