Comments on: UWB May Revolutionize Wireless Networking... Someday

The May issue of Scientific American has an article on Ultrawideband (UWB) wireless networks, which have the potential to greatly speed up short-range wireless networking, while requiring less power than current options. Rather than sending its signals within a narrow frequency range as current technologies do, UWB sends out very short pulses of radio waves spread over a wide range of the spectrum.
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Size Matters....

big_raji @ 4/13/2002 5:27:34 PM #
Maybe I'm just blind, but I couldn't find this article at that link... I also didn't really see any mention of size in the PIC article.

From what I've seen, Bluetooth is the only technology right now that can fit in a PDA without you noticing the size. The 802.11 seems to only be in the form of a 'sled' that doubles or triples the size of a PDA.

What kind of size would we be looking at in the future for these devices? Is it feasible for a PDA?

What's Wrong With This Picture?

RE: Size Matters....
mtg101 @ 4/13/2002 5:32:32 PM #
Size and power matters.

We've got 802.11b and Bluetooth SpringBoard modules for the Visor at work. The Bluetooth one fits inside the SpingBoard slot and uses little power - the 802.11b module is huge and needs it's own battery supply, and still runs out of power in an hour or 2. Anyone who knows anything about PDAs knows that size and battery life are really important.

So, it's very important if Ultra Wide Band is low power & small for us PDA users - anyone know anything about it?


RE: Size Matters....
big_raji @ 4/13/2002 5:54:29 PM #
I think the above article already mentions that it would use "less power than current options"

It then compares speeds with Bluetooth... does that also mean it uses less power than Bluetooth? Mebbe.

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RE: Size Matters....
Ed @ 4/13/2002 7:07:26 PM #
Russell, how did you miss the part where I wrote, "When compared with Bluetooth or 802.11 hardware, UWB transceivers are much simpler and use much less power"?

UWB is potentially even easier to include in a handheld than Bluetooth. There are circuit diagrams that compare Bluetooth and UWB in the Intel article listed under "Related Information".

Sorry, Scientific American does not put the contents of its most recent issue on its website. Nevertheless, I have to cite it as the source of much of this info. You might also take a look at the Intel article.

News Editor

RE: Size Matters....
mtg101 @ 4/13/2002 8:17:17 PM #
Arrrgghh - I admit I didn't read the article proprly - just skimmed it. And it was Sat night here in the UK when I replied... I may have een drinking...

I was just trying to agree with the first post and add power to the equation. As power was already covered, I'll just resort to ageeing that "size matters" :-)


RE: Size Matters....
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/13/2002 9:25:22 PM #
UWB really is a great technology. I was lucky enough to go to a conference, about a year ago, where it was discussed in great detail. UWB, itself is a very good way to transmit data, but it's only a physical specification. It describes how bits are to be transmitted, but not anything else. There may be a good deal of circuitry added by the time it is implemented in a complete networking scheme. As for GPS interference... It's been shown that there is no noticeable interaction between UWB and GPS until the GPS receiver is within about 10cm of the UWB transmitter.

High data rates... Yes, but it will depend highly on how UWB is used in the network. I don't have the papers handy, but it's something like this: The transmitter will transmit something like 500Mbps, but it uses alot of redundancy to ensure a valid signal. The receiver will take a running sum of the bits recieved. Then it devides it by the number of bit times (takes an average) to determine what the correct signal was. You can be sure there will be errors (plenty of them) and taking the average makes it more probable that the correct signal can be extrapolated. I'll have to dig around and see if I can find those papers. It's really interesting reading.

Tip DS

RE: Size Matters....
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/14/2002 2:37:52 AM #
As far as size goes, the Symbol Wireless Networker 802.11b CF card is just slightly bigger than a CF memory card. It performs just as well as (if not better) any other wireless hardware I've used. So, 802.11b hardware can be quite small. Still, power-wise Bluetooth and this UWB are much better solutions.
RE: Size Matters....
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/14/2002 9:20:40 AM #
Size would be related to a specific product design. You are jumping the gun a little. This is an article about a future technology.
RE: Size Matters....
big_raji @ 4/14/2002 10:55:31 AM #
Not really. For years before release, information about Bluetooth said that it could be integrated into devices with a single chip, not adding any noticeable size or bulk.

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RE: Size Matters....
easypeasy @ 4/14/2002 1:57:00 PM #
UWB seem to be possible to make devices more tolerant to interference since it used more frequencies right?
More redundant data would mean better chance of transmission. I find 802.11b deteriates rapidly once you start closing doors. Also so may 2.4Ghz cant be a good thing. I've thrown out one wireless radio mouse already.

Secondly, how you FCC rule against such a which use of bandwidth? Even though this is low powered?

Anyone remember Bluetooths rival technology that would used 1/100th the power of Bluetooth?

RE: Size Matters....
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/14/2002 4:08:05 PM #
I have an old issue of Scientific American. In it, they describe the technology we could use to create essentially "airplanes" that could fly into space and back taking off and landing at relatively typical airports. Anyhow, point being that this UWB work still sounds pretty researchy, and I somehow doubt it will see the light of day for consumer use sooner than a few years. I do agree with some of the other posts that the 2.4GHz band is getting pretty crowded. Between, cordless phones, microwaves, wireless mice/keyboards, wireless home A/V transmitter/receivers and more there is a lot of interference out there for 2.4GHz devices. A good solution might seem to be using 802.11a at 5GHz and Bluetooth at 2.4GHz, but at least in the US, 802.11b starting to get pretty wide use and I think many are going to be reluctant to upgrade to 802.11a anytime soon.
RE: Size Matters....
mikemusick @ 4/14/2002 11:15:54 PM #
A couple of points of clarification, from the RF design perspective:

First, the FCC has US jurisdiction over all intentional and most unintentional radiators of radio energy, regardless of power level. My gosh... if somebody didn't play traffic cop, communications as we know it wouldn't be possible.

UWB is a compelling technology, but implementation will definely be at a measurable cost to other users of RF spectrum. GPS won't be the only victim - anybody else who relies on sniffing weak signals out of the background static (we call it "noise floor") is going to have a tough go of it. UWB raises the noise floor we've already seen it plenty of times in narrower frequency-hopping implementations (Bluetooth and 802.11 included).

Bottom line is that there are millions of users relying on narrow-band technologies who would be adversely affected by UWB. This is especially true in the current climate, where NB users are being asked (told) to reduce power and increasingly rely on weak-signal acquisition methods. We may get to UWB someday, but not without a large impact and likely a long, drawn-out cutover process.

Time Domain

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/15/2002 3:58:00 AM #
A good link for UWB should be the inventor's company, Time Domain.
Lots of info.


PIC mobile user @ 4/15/2002 4:02:08 AM #
I find it really amusing how people are focusing on what's next after 802.11b and Bluetooth, and neither are completely here yet!

You might say I'm wrong, that you can buy and use both technologies now, and while that may be true, it comes at a rather high-price.

And even if you could afford it, it's under special conditions (I'm still waitting for Bluetooth on my Clie -without having to learn Japanese-).
RE: Funny...
big_raji @ 4/15/2002 8:02:27 AM #
Perhaps this site should only focus on Palm-related stuff that's been available for at least 6 months, and never focus on any news until it's old news? :P

I think everybody would agree that Bluetooth has been taking its sweet-ass time getting here. I stopped waiting for Bluetooth years ago... I'm doing fine with IR between my Clie and Cel phone.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

RE: Funny...
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/15/2002 8:17:50 AM #
I'm not sure what country the original poster is in, but in the US, 802.11b is here. Though not dirt cheap, it is pretty darn cheap in comparison to what even wired solutions cost a couple years ago.
RE: Funny...
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/15/2002 12:09:56 PM #
For the matter, 802.11a is available routinely in the US now and not particularly expensive. (And for the record, 802.11b that doesn't support strong WEP encryption is now dirt cheap but arguably useless.)

UWB cannot be used (commercially) below 3.1 gigahertz.

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/15/2002 4:20:45 AM #
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) addressed the concerns of the critics. When it approved the technology, it did so with a number of technical restrictions. The major restriction is that UWB cannot be used (commercially) below 3.1 gigahertz. The reason: This is above the frequencies used by GPS satellites, all existing wireless phone systems and most of the military systems. The major concern expressed by both the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA, the body that allocates spectrum for use by the Feds and the commercial wireless industry) was that UWB could interfere with these services. By placing tight restrictions on the use of UWB below 3.1 GHz, and permitting it to be used above 3.1 GHz, the FCC has reached a balance among the conflicting interests.

For the most part, the UWB community, led by Time Domain, a Huntsville, Ala.-based company that develops a UWB chipset, is making the most of this decision to get products into the market as quickly as possible and to prove that there are no interference issues. If interference turns out to have been exaggerated, proponents will go back to the FCC to request the removal of the restrictions below 3.1 GHz. Then, UWB players would be able to offer wide-area services. The spectrum above 3.1 GHz is not very useful for anything other than short-range communications.


Intel demos first ultrawideband wireless
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/15/2002 4:23:17 AM #
MetaGroup: UWB is 3-5 years from market introduction
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/15/2002 4:25:42 AM #
The MetaGroup tells us......

A potential Bluetooth replacement is already on the horizon in the form of ultrawideband (UWB) technology. Recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), UWB uses one-thousandth of the power of Bluetooth, an important consideration for small, battery-operated devices. It is also much more secure than current wireless systems. It works by sending pulses so weak that they are virtually undetectable amid the natural radio "noise" that permeates the environment, unless the receiver is keyed to the same pattern used by the particular transmitter.

However, UWB technology is three to five years from market introduction and has yet to receive licensing approval outside the US. While homeland security activities by the US government may spur UWB development, we do not expect it to become a practical technology for at least three years.




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