Two-way ranging, real-time location evaluation kit

March 11, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Fabless semiconductor company DecaWave (Dublin, Eire) has created an evaluation kit, TREK1000, based on its precise indoor location and communication CMOS chip, the DW1000. TREK1000 enables users to evaluate the performance of DecaWave’s DW1000 Ultra-Wideband (UWB) integrated circuit in different RTLS topologies.

The kit will allow customers to quickly evaluate the performance of DecaWave’s UWB technology in multiple real-time location systems (RTLS) use cases. A concept can be proofed in hours and prototyped in days, the company says, to bring new and innovative products to the market faster. Based on the two-way ranging scheme, the kit will offer the possibility to test three different topologies.

The kit is based on the DW1000 chip which is the first IEEE802.15.4-2011 UWB compliant wireless transceiver. The chip, while allowing the location of objects to a precision of 10 cm, is also capable of high data-rate communications, up to 6.8 Mb/sec. This combined capability makes it a perfect fit to answer the “What, When, Where” questions essential to the deployment of the Internet of Things.

DecaWave’s Mickael Viot explains that the DW1000 is quite unlike a number of UWB proposals that emerged several years ago (and that failed to take off), “Those were aimed at very high bandwidth over a very short distance to transfer large files between devices: they used OFDM whereas the DW1000 is an impulse-radio-architecture chip that makes use of the characteristics of the RF signal to maximise [distance] accuracy and reliability.” It has in common with other UWB offerings the characteristic that the signal is a very low level – essentially, in the noise – and use of a coherent receiver enables reception of a useful amount of data in addition to its ranging performance. The chip is built, despite its operation over 3.5 to 6.5 GHz bands, in standard 90-nm CMOS, which enables DecaWave to be “open to” IP licensing in addition to its fabless chip supply model.

Due to its communications range of up to 290m in line-of-sight and up to 35m in non-line-of-sight, it also reduces the system cost by reducing the need for infrastructure. The three location modes use time-of-flight or time-difference of [signal] arrival methods of determining