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Ultra-wideband (also known as UWB, ultra-wide band and ultraband) is a radio technology that can use a very low energy level for short-range, high-bandwidth communications over a large portion of the radio spectrum. [1] UWB has traditional applications in non-cooperative radar imaging. Most recent applications target sensor data collection, precision locating and tracking applications. [2] [3]



Unlike spread spectrum, UWB transmits in a manner that does not interfere with conventional narrowband and carrier wave transmission in the same frequency band.

Spread spectrum Spreading the frequency domain of a signal

In telecommunication and radio communication, spread-spectrum techniques are methods by which a signal generated with a particular bandwidth is deliberately spread in the frequency domain, resulting in a signal with a wider bandwidth. These techniques are used for a variety of reasons, including the establishment of secure communications, increasing resistance to natural interference, noise and jamming, to prevent detection, and to limit power flux density.

In radio communications, narrowband describes a channel in which the bandwidth of the message does not significantly exceed the channel's coherence bandwidth.

Carrier wave waveform (usually sinusoidal) that is modulated (modified) with an input signal for the purpose of conveying information

In telecommunications, a carrier wave, carrier signal, or just carrier, is a waveform that is modulated (modified) with an input signal for the purpose of conveying information. This carrier wave usually has a much higher frequency than the input signal does. The purpose of the carrier is usually either to transmit the information through space as an electromagnetic wave, or to allow several carriers at different frequencies to share a common physical transmission medium by frequency division multiplexing. The term is also used for an unmodulated emission in the absence of any modulating signal.

Ultra-wideband is a technology for transmitting information spread over a large bandwidth (>500  MHz); this should, in theory and under the right circumstances, be able to share spectrum with other users. Regulatory settings by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States intend to provide an efficient use of radio bandwidth while enabling high-data-rate personal area network (PAN) wireless connectivity; longer-range, low-data-rate applications; and radar and imaging systems.

Hertz SI unit for frequency

The hertz (symbol: Hz) is the derived unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI) and is defined as one cycle per second. It is named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the first person to provide conclusive proof of the existence of electromagnetic waves. Hertz are commonly expressed in multiples: kilohertz (103 Hz, kHz), megahertz (106 Hz, MHz), gigahertz (109 Hz, GHz), terahertz (1012 Hz, THz), petahertz (1015 Hz, PHz), and exahertz (1018 Hz, EHz).

Federal Communications Commission independent agency of the United States government

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States government created by statute to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC serves the public in the areas of broadband access, fair competition, radio frequency use, media responsibility, public safety, and homeland security.

Personal area network Computer network centered on an individual persons workspace

A personal area network (PAN) is a computer network for interconnecting devices centered on an individual person's workspace. A PAN provides data transmission among devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets and personal digital assistants. PANs can be used for communication among the personal devices themselves, or for connecting to a higher level network and the Internet where one master device takes up the role as gateway. A PAN may be wireless or carried over wired interfaces such as USB.

Pulse radio

Ultra-wideband was formerly known as pulse radio, but the FCC and the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) currently define UWB as an antenna transmission for which emitted signal bandwidth exceeds the lesser of 500 MHz or 20% of the arithmetic center frequency [4] . Thus, pulse-based systems—where each transmitted pulse occupies the UWB bandwidth (or an aggregate of at least 500 MHz of narrow-band carrier; for example, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM))—can access the UWB spectrum under the rules. Pulse repetition rates may be either low or very high. Pulse-based UWB radars and imaging systems tend to use low repetition rates (typically in the range of 1 to 100 megapulses per second).

International Telecommunication Union Specialised agency of the United Nations

The International Telecommunication Union, originally the International Telegraph Union, is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies. It is the oldest among all the 15 specialised agencies of UN.

ITU-R one of the three sectors of the ITU

The ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) is one of the three sectors of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and is responsible for radio communication.

In telecommunications, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) is a method of encoding digital data on multiple carrier frequencies. OFDM has developed into a popular scheme for wideband digital communication, used in applications such as digital television and audio broadcasting, DSL internet access, wireless networks, power line networks, and 4G mobile communications.

On the other hand, communications systems favor high repetition rates (typically in the range of one to two gigapulses per second), thus enabling short-range gigabit-per-second communications systems. Each pulse in a pulse-based UWB system occupies the entire UWB bandwidth. This allows UWB to reap the benefits of relative immunity to multipath fading, unlike carrier-based systems which are subject to deep fading and intersymbol interference. However, both systems are susceptible to intersymbol interference.

Multipath interference Wave physics phenomenon

Multipath interference is a phenomenon in the physics of waves whereby a wave from a source travels to a detector via two or more paths and, under the right condition, the two components of the wave interfere. Multipath interference is a common cause of "ghosting" in analog television broadcasts and of fading of radio waves.

In telecommunication, intersymbol interference (ISI) is a form of distortion of a signal in which one symbol interferes with subsequent symbols. This is an unwanted phenomenon as the previous symbols have similar effect as noise, thus making the communication less reliable. The spreading of the pulse beyond its allotted time interval causes it to interfere with neighboring pulses. ISI is usually caused by multipath propagation or the inherent linear or non-linear frequency response of a communication channel causing successive symbols to "blur" together.


A significant difference between conventional radio transmissions and UWB is that conventional systems transmit information by varying the power level, frequency, and/or phase of a sinusoidal wave. UWB transmissions transmit information by generating radio energy at specific time intervals and occupying a large bandwidth, thus enabling pulse-position or time modulation. The information can also be modulated on UWB signals (pulses) by encoding the polarity of the pulse, its amplitude and/or by using orthogonal pulses. UWB pulses can be sent sporadically at relatively low pulse rates to support time or position modulation, but can also be sent at rates up to the inverse of the UWB pulse bandwidth. Pulse-UWB systems have been demonstrated at channel pulse rates in excess of 1.3 gigapulses per second using a continuous stream of UWB pulses (Continuous Pulse UWB or C-UWB), supporting forward error correction encoded data rates in excess of 675 Mbit/s. [5]

Pulse-position modulation (PPM) is a form of signal modulation in which M message bits are encoded by transmitting a single pulse in one of possible required time shifts. This is repeated every T seconds, such that the transmitted bit rate is bits per second. It is primarily useful for optical communications systems, which tend to have little or no multipath interference.

C-UWB is an acronym for continuous pulse ultra-wideband (UWB) technology. C-UWB derives its bandwidth by virtue of the short time duration of the individual pulses. Information can be imparted (modulated) on UWB signals (pulses) by encoding the polarity of the pulse, the amplitude of the pulse, or by using orthogonal pulse shape modulation. Polarity modulation is analogous to BPSK in conventional RF technology. In orthogonal wave shape modulation, two orthogonal UWB pulse shapes are employed. These are further polarity modulated in a fashion analogous to QPSK in conventional radio technology. Preferably, the modulating data bits are scrambled or "whitened" to randomize the occurrences of ones and zeros. The pulses are sent contiguously as a continuous stream, hence the bit rate can equal the pulse rate.

A valuable aspect of UWB technology is the ability for a UWB radio system to determine the "time of flight" of the transmission at various frequencies. This helps overcome multipath propagation, as at least some of the frequencies have a line-of-sight trajectory. With a cooperative symmetric two-way metering technique, distances can be measured to high resolution and accuracy by compensating for local clock drift and stochastic inaccuracy. [6]

Another feature of pulse-based UWB is that the pulses are very short (less than 60 cm for a 500 MHz-wide pulse, less than 23 cm for a 1.3 GHz-bandwidth pulse) – so most signal reflections do not overlap the original pulse, and there is no multipath fading of narrowband signals. However, there is still multipath propagation and inter-pulse interference to fast-pulse systems, which must be mitigated by coding techniques.[ citation needed ]


One performance measure of a radio in applications such as communication, locating, tracking and radar is the channel capacity for a given bandwidth and signaling format. Channel capacity is the theoretical maximum possible number of bits per second of information that a system can convey through one or more links in an area. According to the Shannon–Hartley theorem, the channel capacity of a properly encoded signal is proportional to the bandwidth of the channel and the logarithm of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) (assuming the noise is additive white Gaussian noise). Thus, channel capacity increases linearly by increasing the channel's bandwidth to the maximum value available, or (in a fixed-channel bandwidth) by increasing the signal power exponentially. By virtue of the large bandwidths inherent in UWB systems, large channel capacities could be achieved in principle (given sufficient SNR) without invoking higher-order modulations requiring a very high SNR. Ideally, the receiver signal detector should match the transmitted signal in bandwidth, signal shape and time. A mismatch results in loss of margin for the UWB radio link. Channelization (sharing the channel with other links) is a complex issue, subject to many variables. Two UWB links may share the same spectrum by using orthogonal time-hopping codes for pulse-position (time-modulated) systems, or orthogonal pulses and orthogonal codes for fast-pulse-based systems.

Forward error correction – used in high-data-rate UWB pulse systems – can provide channel performance approaching the Shannon limit. [7] OFDM receivers typically fix most errors with a low density parity check code inner code followed by some other outer code that fixes the occasional errors (the "error floor") that get past the LDPC correction inner code even at low bit-error rates. For example: The Reed-Solomon code with LDPC Coded Modulation (RS-LCM) adds a Reed–Solomon error correction outer code. [8] The DVB-T2 standard and the DVB-C2 standard use a BCH code outer code to mop up residual errors after LDPC decoding. [9] WiMedia over a UWB channel uses a Hybrid automatic repeat request: inner error correction using convolutional and Reed-Solomon coding, outer error correction using a frame check sequence that, when the check fails, triggers automatic repeat-request (ARQ). [10]

When stealth is required, some UWB formats (mainly pulse-based) may be made to appear like a slight rise in background noise to any receiver unaware of the signal’s complex pattern.

Multipath interference (distortion of a signal because it takes many different paths to the receiver with various phase shift and various polarisation shift) is a problem in narrowband technology. It also affects UWB transmissions, but according to the Shannon-Hartley theorem and the variety of geometries applying to various frequencies the ability to compensate is enhanced. Multipath causes fading, and wave interference is destructive. Some UWB systems use "rake" receiver techniques to recover multipath-generated copies of the original pulse to improve a receiver's performance. Other UWB systems use channel-equalization techniques to achieve the same purpose. Narrowband receivers may use similar techniques, but are limited due to the different resolution capabilities of narrowband systems. [ citation needed ]

Antenna systems


Ultra-wideband characteristics are well-suited to short-distance applications, such as PC peripherals. Due to low emission levels permitted by regulatory agencies, UWB systems tend to be short-range indoor applications. Due to the short duration of UWB pulses, it is easier to engineer high data rates; data rate may be exchanged for range by aggregating pulse energy per data bit (with integration or coding techniques). Conventional orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) technology may also be used, subject to minimum-bandwidth requirements. High-data-rate UWB may enable wireless monitors, the efficient transfer of data from digital camcorders, wireless printing of digital pictures from a camera without the need for a personal computer and file transfers between cell-phone handsets and handheld devices such as portable media players. [11] UWB is used for real-time location systems; its precision capabilities and low power make it well-suited for radio-frequency-sensitive environments, such as hospitals. Another feature of UWB is its short broadcast time.

Ultra-wideband is also used in "see-through-the-wall" precision radar-imaging technology, [12] [13] [14] precision locating and tracking (using distance measurements between radios), and precision time-of-arrival-based localization approaches. [15] It is efficient, with a spatial capacity of approximately 1013 bit/s/m².[ citation needed ] UWB radar has been proposed as the active sensor component in an Automatic Target Recognition application, designed to detect humans or objects that have fallen onto subway tracks. [16]

Due to its low average power, high resolution, and object-penetrating ability, UWB technology has shown promise in Doppler processing. In terms of military use, a UWB Doppler radar could demonstrate ground, foliage, and wall penetrating capabilities. In an effort to determine the practicability of this radar technology, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) developed the Synchronous Impulse Reconstruction (SIRE) radar, which used low frequency, impulse-based UWB radar technology to produce images of stationary targets while the platform was in motion. ARL has also investigated the feasibility of whether UWB radar technology can incorporate Doppler processing to estimate the velocity of a moving target when the platform is stationary. [17] While a 2013 report highlighted the issue with the use of UWB waveforms due to target range migration during the integration interval, more recent studies have suggested that UWB waveforms can demonstrate better performance compared to conventional Doppler processing as long as a correct matched filter is used. [18]

Ultra-wideband pulse Doppler radars have also been used to monitor vital signs of the human body, such as heart rate and respiration signals as well as human gait analysis and fall detection. It serves as a potential alternative to continuous-wave radar systems since it involves less power consumption and a high-resolution range profile. However, its low signal-to-noise ratio has made it vulnerable to errors. [19] [20]

UWB has been a proposed technology for use in personal area networks, and appeared in the IEEE 802.15.3a draft PAN standard. However, after several years of deadlock, the IEEE 802.15.3a task group [21] was dissolved [22] in 2006. The work was completed by the WiMedia Alliance and the USB Implementer Forum. Slow progress in UWB standards development, the cost of initial implementation, and performance significantly lower than initially expected are several reasons for the limited use of UWB in consumer products (which caused several UWB vendors to cease operations in 2008 and 2009). [23]


In the USA, ultra-wideband refers to radio technology with a bandwidth exceeding the lesser of 500 MHz or 20% of the arithmetic center frequency, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A February 14, 2002 FCC Report and Order [24] authorized the unlicensed use of UWB in the frequency range from 3.1 to 10.6  GHz. The FCC power spectral density emission limit for UWB transmitters is −41.3 dBm/MHz. This limit also applies to unintentional emitters in the UWB band (the "Part 15" limit). However, the emission limit for UWB emitters may be significantly lower (as low as −75 dBm/MHz) in other segments of the spectrum.

Deliberations in the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) resulted in a Report and Recommendation on UWB[ citation needed ] in November 2005. UK regulator Ofcom announced a similar decision [25] on 9 August 2007. More than four dozen devices have been certified under the FCC UWB rules, the vast majority of which are radar, imaging or locating systems[ citation needed ].

There has been concern over interference between narrowband and UWB signals that share the same spectrum. Earlier, the only radio technology that used pulses were spark-gap transmitters, which international treaties banned because they interfere with medium-wave receivers. UWB, however, uses lower power. The subject was extensively covered in the proceedings that led to the adoption of the FCC rules in the U.S. and in the meetings relating to UWB of the ITU-R leading to its Report and Recommendations on UWB technology. Commonly used electrical appliances emit impulsive noise (for example, hair dryers) and proponents successfully argued that the noise floor would not be raised excessively by wider deployment of low power wideband transmitters.

China allowed 24 GHz UWB Automotive Short Range Radar in Nov 2012. [26]

Technology groups

See also

Related Research Articles

IEEE 802.15 is a working group of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) IEEE 802 standards committee which specifies wireless personal area network (WPAN) standards. There are 10 major areas of development, not all of which are active.

In electronics and telecommunications, modulation is the process of varying one or more properties of a periodic waveform, called the carrier signal, with a modulating signal that typically contains information to be transmitted. Most radio systems in the 20th century used frequency modulation (FM) or amplitude modulation (AM) for radio broadcast.

Direct-sequence spread spectrum Modulation technique to reduce signal interference

In telecommunications, direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) is a spread spectrum modulation technique used to reduce overall signal interference. The spreading of this signal makes the resulting wideband channel more noisy, allowing for greater resistance to unintentional and intentional interference.

In wireless telecommunications, multipath is the propagation phenomenon that results in radio signals reaching the receiving antenna by two or more paths. Causes of multipath include atmospheric ducting, ionospheric reflection and refraction, and reflection from water bodies and terrestrial objects such as mountains and buildings.


In wireless communications, fading is variation of the attenuation of a signal with various variables. These variables include time, geographical position, and radio frequency. Fading is often modeled as a random process. A fading channel is a communication channel that experiences fading. In wireless systems, fading may either be due to multipath propagation, referred to as multipath-induced fading, weather, or shadowing from obstacles affecting the wave propagation, sometimes referred to as shadow fading.

Single-frequency network

A single-frequency network or SFN is a broadcast network where several transmitters simultaneously send the same signal over the same frequency channel.

Radiolocating is the process of finding the location of something through the use of radio waves. It generally refers to passive uses, particularly radar—as well as detecting buried cables, water mains, and other public utilities. It is similar to radionavigation, but radiolocation usually refers to passively finding a distant object rather than actively one's own position. Both are types of radiodetermination. Radiolocation is also used in real-time locating systems (RTLS) for tracking valuable assets.

WiMedia Alliance organization

The WiMedia Alliance was a non-profit industry trade group that promoted the adoption, regulation, standardization and multi-vendor interoperability of ultra-wideband (UWB) technologies. It existed from about 2002 through 2009.

FM-UWB is a modulation scheme using double FM: low-modulation index digital FSK followed by high-modulation index analog FM to create a constant envelope UWB signal. FDMA techniques at the subcarrier level may be exploited to accommodate multiple users. The system is intended for low and medium bit rate, and short-range WPAN systems. The technology, developed at CSEM, is paving the way for true low-power LDR-UWB communication devices. FM-UWB is an optional mode in the IEEE802.15.6 Body Area Network (BAN) standard.

A wide variety of different wireless data technologies exist, some in direct competition with one another, others designed for specific applications. Wireless technologies can be evaluated by a variety of different metrics of which some are described in this entry.

IEEE 802.11a-1999 or 802.11a was an amendment to the IEEE 802.11 wireless local network specifications that defined requirements for an orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) communication system. It was originally designed to support wireless communication in the unlicensed national information infrastructure (U-NII) bands as regulated in the United States by the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47, Section 15.407.

Chirp spread spectrum

In digital communications, chirp spread spectrum (CSS) is a spread spectrum technique that uses wideband linear frequency modulated chirp pulses to encode information. A chirp is a sinusoidal signal of frequency increase or decrease over time. In the picture is an example of an upchirp in which the frequency increases linearly over time. Sometimes the frequency of upchirps increase exponentially over time.

IEEE 802.15.4a was an amendment to IEEE 802.15.4-2006 specifying that additional physical layers (PHYs) be added to the original standard. It has been merged into and is superseded by IEEE 802.15.4-2011.

Georgios B. Giannakis Greek–American computer scientist

Georgios B. Giannakis is a Greek–American Professor, engineer, and inventor. At present he is an Endowed Chair Professor of Wireless Telecommunications with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Director of the Digital Technology Center at the University of Minnesota.

Multiple-input, multiple-output orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (MIMO-OFDM) is the dominant air interface for 4G and 5G broadband wireless communications. It combines multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technology, which multiplies capacity by transmitting different signals over multiple antennas, and orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), which divides a radio channel into a large number of closely spaced subchannels to provide more reliable communications at high speeds. Research conducted during the mid-1990s showed that while MIMO can be used with other popular air interfaces such as time-division multiple access (TDMA) and code-division multiple access (CDMA), the combination of MIMO and OFDM is most practical at higher data rates.

The Synchronous Impulse Reconstruction (SIRE) radar is a multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) radar system designed by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) to detect landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It consists of a low frequency, impulse-based ultra-wideband (UWB) radar that uses 16 receivers with 2 transmitters at the ends of the 2 meter-wide receive array that send alternating, orthogonal waveforms into the ground and return signals reflected from targets in a given area. The SIRE radar system comes mounted on top of a vehicle and receives signals that form images that uncover up to 33 meters in the direction that the transmitters are facing. It is able to collect and process data as part of an affordable and lightweight package due to slow yet inexpensive analog-to-digital (A/D) converters that sample the wide bandwidth of radar signals. It uses a GPS and Augmented Reality (AR) technology in conjunction with camera to create a live video stream with a more comprehensive visual display of the targets.


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