What is UWB (ultra-wide band) tech and how does it work?

Ultra-wide band (UWB) technology has become more popular in recent years and is found across smartphones and useful accessories, such as Bluetooth trackers, but what is it and how does it work?

We’ve put together this guide to help you learn more about UWB, how it compares to other wireless communication technologies and which devices it’s currently found in.

What is ultra-wide band technology?

Ultra-wide band technology (which can also be referred to as UWB, ultra wideband and ultra wide band) is a short-range wireless communication technology that can transmit data across a wide bandwidth of over 500MHz. 

This is useful for a few reasons. Firstly, UWB is able to send and receive data in as fast as two nanoseconds, thanks to its wide bandwidth that allows for the transmission of information without interfering with other frequencies. UWB also enables precise locating and tracking too.

How is UWB different from Bluetooth or Wi-Fi?

UWB is similar to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as all are short-range, wireless communication protocols that transfer data through radio waves. However, as UWB operates at higher frequencies and uses the aforementioned wide bandwidth of 500MHz, it is able to capture highly accurate data much faster. 

Equally, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi lack the accuracy and radio frequency security that’s found with UWB.

Which devices use UWB?

UWB chips can be embedded within numerous devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, luggage trackers and even earbuds, so you can easily track and locate your items. Apple has designed the U1 chip, which can be found in all iPhones since the iPhone 11, and AirTags. UWB can also be used for file sharing over Apple’s AirDrop and Nearby-Share between compatible devices.

Apple, Google and Samsung all also utilise the technology in their respective location services: Find My, Find My Device and Samsung Find. All are compatible with different devices, for example Apple’s Find My is mainly dedicated to devices within the Apple ecosystem, such as iPhones, AirPods, Apple Watches and AirTags.

Apple AirTagApple AirTag
Apple AirTag

Similarly, both Google’s Find My Device and Samsung Find are somewhat restrictive as not all Android devices are compatible. For example, the only Samsung devices that have UWB include the Galaxy S Series Plus and Ultra models, Z-Folds, SmartTags and Buds Pro 2. 

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