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State-of-the-art integrated IR-UWB enabling global high-quality low-power mobile applications

Imec, Holst Centre » IR-UWB

Imec and Holst Centre present a fully chip-integrated ultralow-power IR-UWB (impulse-radio ultra-wideband) solution for use in the worldwide available 6-10GHz band. The radio delivers high-quality communication for battery-operated mobile and sensing applications. It operates fade-resilient and interference-free.

With its first ultralow-power integrated solution for the 6-10GHz band, imec and Holst Centre now make UWB communication available for battery-operated applications in the area of personal area networks and positioning sensors worldwide. Examples are short-range video streaming or around-the-body audio streaming (e.g. between a headset and a smartphone). When using the UWB radio for the wireless streaming of audio between for example a smartphone and an earpiece, the battery lifetime of the smartphone will increase by over 3x compared to a conventional Bluetooth-based solution, and the earpiece will have 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.

Imec, Holst Centre: State-of-the-art integrated IR-UWB enabling global high-quality low-power mobile applications

Impulse ultra-wideband communication is especially suited for short-range (20m) communication and positioning sensors. The large bandwidth improves the resilience against fades, resulting in a superior communication reliability. This is especially so compared to narrowband solutions, which tend to lose signals in surroundings with reflective surfaces and multi-path propagation. Also, spreading information over a wide bandwidth decreases the power spectral density, thus reducing the interference with other systems and lowering the probability of interception. IR-UWB is also suitable for positioning sensors; the reflection of the wide-band signal allows for centimeter-ranging positioning accuracy.

Imec and Holst Centre’s solution consists of a transmitter, receiver front-end, and receiver digital baseband. The transmitter delivers 13dBm peak power, with an average power consumption of 3.3mW. The receiver front-end shows -88dBm sensitivity at 1Mbps. A digital synchronization algorithm enables real-time duty cycling, resulting in 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.

Companies can have access to this technology by joining imec and Holst Centre’s R&D program on ultra-low power wireless systems.

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