NXP to utilize UWB for precision distance sensing applications

June 13, 2019 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
UWB technology for secure car access
At its annual developer conference in Santa Clara (Calif), chipmaker NXP has announced the development of Ultra Wide Band (UWB) devices for a broad range of markets, including automotive, Internet-of-Things (IoT) and industrial. The technology brings secure ranging and precision sensing creating a new dimension of spatial context for wireless devices, NXP claims. One of the key applications is automotive security.

In a keynote speech, NXP President Kurt Sievers described the new markets and application fields that the use of UWB will open up. “The technology not only understands motion and relative positioning outdoors and indoors, but its real-time robust accuracy can change the way we drive efficiency in factories, play interactive games or use AR/AI applications on our phones.”

According to the chipmaker, this new generation of UWB represents a major evolutionary step from existing wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Its ability to process contextual information such as the position of the UWB anchor, its movements, and distance to other devices, enables decision making and management of these devices to take place with high granularity.

Due to its accurate localization capabilities, doors and points of entry can open once approaching them. Lights, audio speakers and any other connected devices with sensors will be able to follow consumers from one room to another, and smart connected technology will blend in more intuitively in people’s lives, NXP promises.

One of the application fields where the new technology is needed most urgently is the automotive market: Keyless systems to control car doors have been plagued by frequent relay attacks that led to the theft of these vehicles. Now NXP apparently has found a remedy: The company plans to use Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technology to detect the exact distance between the car and the transmitter. Thus, the system can ensure that and that the key is actually in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle and distinguish the authentic signal from the relayed / spoofed signal. While NXP announced the development of such devices as a future technology, it already demoed such a prototype application in the exhibition associated to the meeting. The system is said to provide a distance accuracy of 10 centimeters.

Transmitting a 2 nanoseconds impulse and measuring the time for the response, the UWB system uses the

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