Imec and Holst Centre developed a fully chip-integrated ultralow-power impulse-radio ultra-wideband (IR-UWB) solution for the 6-10GHz band, which is available worldwide. The radio features fade-resilient and interference-free operation. Imec and Holst Centre’s solution for the 6-10GHz band makes UWB communication available for battery-operated applications in the area of personal area networks and positioning sensors worldwide. Examples include short-range video streaming or around-the-body audio streaming (e.g. between a headset and a smartphone).
The IR-UWB solution includes a transmitter, receiver front-end, and receiver digital baseband. The transmitter offers 13dBm peak power, with an average power consumption of 3.3mW. The receiver front-end features -88dBm sensitivity at 1Mbps. Real-time duty cycling is enabled by a digital synchronization algorithm. The result is a mean power consumption of 3mW. A DCO with 100ppm frequency accuracy and a baseband frequency tracking algorithm ensure the coherent reception. A 75dB link budget with a data rate of 1Mbps is achieved. The ultralow-power integrated solution is ideal for high-quality communication in battery-operated mobile and sensing applications.
Compared to a conventional Bluetooth-based solution, the battery lifetime of the smartphone will increase by over 3x when UWB radio is used to wireless stream audio (example: between smartphone and earpiece). The earpiece will see a battery lifetime increase of over 5x. In contrast to the Bluetooth communication, the UWB radio will not suffer from interference from other wireless technologies that operate in the same location and in the same frequency band.
Impulse ultra-wideband communication is ideal for short-range (20m) communication and positioning sensors. The large bandwidth improves the resilience against fades, resulting in a superior communication reliability — especially compared to narrowband solutions, which tend to lose signals in surroundings with reflective surfaces and multi-path propagation. In addition, spreading information over a wide bandwidth decreases the power spectral density, which reduces the interference with other systems and lowering the probability of interception. IR-UWB is also ideal for positioning sensors; the reflection of the wide-band signal allows for centimeter-ranging positioning accuracy.