Part of the Wireless technologies glossary:

DEFINITION - Ultra wideband (also known as UWB or as digital pulse wireless) is a wireless technology for transmitting large amounts of digital data over a wide spectrum of frequency bands with very low power for a short distance. Ultra wideband radio not only can carry a huge amount of data over a distance up to 230 feet at very low power (less than 0.5 milliwatts), but has the ability to carry signals through doors and other obstacles that tend to reflect signals at more limited bandwidths and a higher power. Ultra wideband can be compared with another short-distance wireless technology, Bluetooth, which is a standard for connecting handheld wireless devices with other similar devices and with desktop computers.

Ultra wideband broadcasts digital pulses that are timed very precisely on a carrier signal across a very wide spectrum (number of frequency channels) at the same time. Transmitter and receiver must be coordinated to send and receive pulses with an accuracy of trillionths of a second. On any given frequency band that may already be in use, the ultra wideband signal has less power than the normal and anticipated background noise so theoretically no interference is possible. Time Domain, a company applying to use the technology, uses a microchip manufactured by IBM to transmit 1.25 million bits per second, but says there is the potential for a data rate in the billions of bits per second.

Ultra wideband has two main types of application:

1) Applications involving radar, in which the signal penetrates nearby surfaces but reflects surfaces that are farther away, allowing objects to be detected behind walls or other coverings.

2) Voice and data transmission using digital pulses, allowing a very low powered and relatively low cost signal to carry information at very high rates within a restricted range.

In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission approved the commercial use of ultra wideband on February 14, 2002.

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This was last updated in June 2008
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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