IMEC adds machine learning to UWB for improved secure proximity

May 20, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
IMEC adds machine learning to UWB for improved secure proximity
A novel UWB transceiver from IMEC has reduced power consumption and footprint compared with other designs, to allow secure proximity applications.

IMEC has developed a UWB transceiver using digital RF design approach. The design has low power consumption, partly enabled by use of an advanced manufacturing process, and the research institute has added machine learning based error correction algorithms to allow ranging accuracy of less than 10cm.

Typical applications would be secure keyless access, asset tracking and robotics.

IMEC has been able to integrate a UWB transceiver – including three receivers for angle-of-arrival measurements – in an area of less than one square millimeter. It achieves a ranging accuracy of less than 10cm in challenging environments while consuming 10 times less power than current implementations.

Christian Bachmann, program manager for Secure Proximity and Sensitive Networks programs at IMEC, said that the design targets less than 4mW/20mW (Tx/Rx).

Researchers from IDLab at Ghent University have come up with software enhancements that significantly improve UWB’s wireless ranging performance in challenging environments, such as those with high numbers of reflections and signal ghost paths.

"Using machine learning, we created smart anchor selection algorithms that detect the non line-of-sight between UWB anchors and the mobile devices that are being tracked. Building on that knowledge, the ranging quality is estimated, and ranging errors are corrected," said Professor Eli De Poorter from IDLab. Tuning of anchor radios can be done to mitigate ranging errors.

"While Bluetooth LE has been a true game changer for wireless ranging applications, UWB now allows us to take the next step. It will pave the way for micro-localization services in a wide range of domains: from secure keyless access and AR/VR gaming to asset tracking and industry 5.0 applications," said Michael Peeters, program director at IMEC.

IMEC said its secure proximity research program is open to industrial partners, covering the entire value chain.

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