Recognising the need for emerging applications to build on a strong foundation that supports interoperability among all categories of devices, sponsor members prominent in the spheres of access, secure connectivity and mobile/CE device solutions – namely the ASSA ABLOY Group (which includes HID Global and NXP Semiconductors), Samsung Electronics and Bosch – have announced the launch of the FiRa Consortium.
The new coalition is designed to grow the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) ecosystem such that new use cases for fine ranging capabilities can thrive, ultimately setting a new standard in seamless user experiences. Sony Imaging Products & Solutions, LitePoint and the Telecommunications Technology Association are the first companies to join the newly-formed organisation.
The FiRa name, which stands for ‘Fine Ranging’, highlights UWB technology’s ability to deliver “unprecedented accuracy” when measuring the distance or determining the relative position of a target. Notably so in challenging environments, UWB technology outperforms other technologies in terms of accuracy, power consumption, robustness in RF connection and security “by a wide margin”
Charlie Zhang, chair of the FiRa Consortium and vice-president of engineering at Samsung Electronics, stated: “As an industry consortium, we believe UWB technology can transform the way in which people experience connectivity. We’re very much committed to the widespread adoption of interoperable UWB technologies.”
IEEE Standard 802.15.4/4z in focus
The starting point for UWB technology is the IEEE Standard 802.15.4/4z, which defines the essential characteristics for low data rate wireless connectivity and enhanced ranging. It’s the aim of the FiRa Consortium to build on what the IEEE has already established by developing an interoperability standard based on the IEEE’s profiled features, defining mechanisms that are out of scope of the IEEE standard and also pursuing activities that support rapid development of specific use cases.
The capabilities of UWB promise to make it an essential technology in many areas, among them:
*Seamless access control UWB can identify an individual’s approach towards or away from a secured entrance, verify security credentials and let an authorised individual pass through an entrance without physically presenting the credential
*Location-based services UWB offers highly precise positioning, even in congested multi-path signal environments, thereby making it easier to navigate large venues such as airports and Shopping Centres or find a car in a multi-story parking garage. It also enables targeted digital marketing campaigns and foot traffic data. Retailers can present customised offers, Government agencies can tailor their notifications and entertainment venues can personalise recommendations during events
*Device-to-Device (Peer-to-Peer) services By providing precise relative distance and direction between two devices, UWB lets devices find the relative location of each other even without infrastructures such as anchors or access points. This allows people to easily find one another in crowded spaces or find items even when they’ve been placed in hidden areas
Use with other wireless technologies
Due to its low power spectral density, UWB offers little-to-no interference with other wireless standards, so it’s well suited for use with other wireless technologies including Near Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
There are also adjacent markets that leverage UWB in other ways, especially automotive. “The FiRa Consortium’s commitment to a complete ecosystem means we will work with other consortia and industry players to develop approaches and define parameters,” explained Charles Dachs, vice-chair of the FiRa Consortium and general manager at NXP Semiconductors.
FiRa Consortium members will have the chance to influence industry trends, gain early access to technical details, certify interoperable products, expand the UWB ecosystem and share expertise. Ramesh Songukrishnasamy, director and treasurer of the FiRa Consortium and CTO of HID Global, commented: “We encourage anyone from any relevant industry area who has a vested interest in the success of UWB to join us and contribute to the Consortium’s work.”
*To learn more about the FiRa Consortium and the benefits of membership visit www.firaconsortium.org