UWB CMOS IC combines indoor location and communication

November 08, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
Irish fabless chip maker DecaWave has launched its single chip DW1000-family ScenSor wireless device, that it says will enable location to ±10cm precision with ultra-low power, enabling new RTLS (real-time location systems) applications.

DecaWave’s ScenSor – the name is a construct of “Seek, Control, Execute, Network / Sense, Obey, Respond” - works by transmitting wireless signals to readers that use them to locate the tagged object to within 10 cm. The chip is the smallest device of its class, is compliant with IEEE 802.15.4a standards (now IEEE802.15.4-2011), and uses ultra-low power - it can operate several years from a battery cell or within an energy harvesting environment. These features make the chip functionally and economically viable to deploy, both in volume and in remote locations.

ScenSor can either replace or complement the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and WiFi technology currently used for indoor tracking (where GPS signals are unavailable) by allowing for more specific, minute-to-minute location information for high-value goods over short range and through obstructions providing more accuracy than ever before. This brings new opportunities across multiple industries including future applications for the technology incorporated in smartphones and tablets.

DecaWave claims a number of key innovations in the implementation of the 802.15.4a standard, including the use of a coherent receiver, increasing sensitivity to the received signal over a non-coherent implementation. This increases the operating range in non-line-of-sight conditions which is key to operation at a distance indoors where there are likely to be many obstacles and a line of sight between the transmitter and receiver most likely will not exist.

DecaWave quotes Serge Hethuin, Head of secured wireless products (SWP) at THALES Communications & Security (TCS) as saying, “TCS has for many years been developing equipment and devices using UWB. TCS has compared the different waveforms that could be qualified... the solution proposed by DecaWave was the best suited one in order to satisfy the demanding applications under consideration... TCS focus applications are related to indoor location in urgency situations dealing with different environment types and especially those in severe non line-of-sight conditions, for which multipath fading is a primary concern. The