5.12. Additional and Niche Markets
5.12.1. Cable TV
UWB is not limited to RF applications. Work is already under way to demonstrate UWB over coaxial cables. Because coax is a shielded media, FCC spectral restrictions do not apply. Early results suggest maximum data rates of 2 Gbps over 1500 to 2000 feet of cable and through repeaters. If successful, UWB could ride over the existing infrastructure, with data rates up to a few gigabits per second, without interfering with legacy connections. Work with twisted-pair (that becomes an antenna) demonstrates 10 Mbps to 30 Mbps over as much as 20,000 feet. Another application for UWB wireless LANs is cable TV distribution throughout the home. Executives note that the "Must Carry" directive by the FCC requires that cable companies carry local TV programmingand therefore must upgrade their networks in order to comply.
5.12.2. Positioning and Measurement (Asset Management)
Although this section was not in the FCC's notice of proposed rule making or notice of inquiry, ultra-wideband is well suited to measuring both distance and position. Thus, many analysts believe that, in addition to high-data-rate wireless PAN, a killer application for UWB will be radio location and measurement for asset management. Precision geolocation systems based on ultra-wideband technology enable both indoor and outdoor tracking down to less than a centimeter. With a single receiver, one can determine the range of a transmitter; with three receivers you can use triangulation to determine position with a much higher degree of accuracy than a GPS. Using ranging, a receiver can determine whether an object is moving. Some potential uses include locator beacons for emergency services and mobile inventory, personnel and asset tracking for increased safety and security, and precision navigation capabilities for vehicles and industrial and agricultural equipment .
In addition, UWB is well suited to a variety of asset management applications, including electronic signs, facility and personnel security, asset tracking, and logistics. UWB technology could also be used to monitor the elderly in nursing homes, as well as children and pets. Asset management, including RFID readers and related asset-finding applications, can become a significant target market for UWB within the next seven years. According to ON World's prediction, asset management will make up less than 5 percent of projected UWB unit shipments until after 2007. A limitation is that it will be challenging for UWB radios to compete with growing standards, such as 802.15.4/ZigBee.
5.12.3. Radar and Imaging Applications
There are many commercial applications of UWB radar and imaging, such as intrusion-detection radars, ground-penetrating radar, and precision geolocation systems. UWB's pulse-based properties give transceivers additional abilities, such as object sensing and range location. Also, because UWB uses a wide band of spectrum, the signal can more easily penetrate walls than can a narrowband frequency transmitter, at lower data rates and it suffers less interference and detection than other RF technologies. The various types of radar and imaging applications include the following.
Ground-Penetrating Radar Systems
Ground-penetrating radar systems operate only when in contact with or within close proximity to the ground for the purpose of detecting or obtaining the images of buried objects. The energy from the GPR is intentionally directed down into the ground for this purpose.
FCC Restrictions. Operation is restricted to law enforcement, fire and rescue organizations, scientific research institutions, commercial mining companies, and construction companies.
Surveillance and Through-Wall Imaging Systems
Through-wall imaging systems detect the location or movement of persons or objects that are located on the other side of a structure such as a wall. Motorola, for example, is exploring see-through-the-wall systems for police, firefighters, and other public-safety agencies. UWB imaging devices also could be used to improve the safety of the construction and home repair industries by locating steel reinforcement bars (that is, rebar) in concrete or wall studs, electrical wiring, and pipes hidden inside walls.
Assuming that FCC restrictions will continue to loosen, UWB radars could be used for security applications in buildings and homes due to its high location-sensing properties including motion detection. Some potential home safety uses include perimeter breach detectors, restricted-access (gate) control, and intrusion-detection systems that are less susceptible to false alarms, as well as space heaters that turn themselves off when a child comes near.
FCC Restrictions. Operation is limited to law enforcement and fire and rescue organizations.
Analysts have projected that both imaging and tracking applications will make up only about 5 percent of total UWB shipments by 2007. However, UWB is well suited to several imaging applications, and this market will likely grow as customers are educated about the advantages.
Ultra-wideband has several exciting characteristics that make it particularly suited for medical applications such as contactless remote patient monitoring and a replacement for ultrasound. These include the fact that it is truly noninterfering with other RF signals and likely will be much less invasive on the human body than, say, a cell phone. Physicians and health care providers could also use UWB medical imaging systems for a variety of health applications to "see" inside the body of a person or an animal. Testing on these applications is under way and will likely be announced soon. One of the companies working on these areas is Sensino of Geneva, Switzerland.
FCC Restrictions. These devices must be operated in the 3.1 GHz to 10.6 GHz frequency band. Operation must be at the direction of, or under the supervision of, a licensed health care practitioner.
Vehicular Radar Systems
These devices are able to detect the location and movement of objects near a vehicle, enabling features such as near-collision avoidance, improved air bag activation, and suspension systems that respond better to road conditions. UWB's location-sensing properties make it a good choice for improving automotive safety with collision-avoidance systems and air bag proximity measurement for safe deployment.
UWB's sharply timed pulses can be used to calculate distances within a fraction of an inchfar better than GPS, the accuracy of which is measured in feet. DaimlerChrysler chose UWB for a prototype anticollision device that regulates a car's speed, keeping it from getting too close to another car or slowing it down when another car cuts in front. Germany's Bosch and Siemens are also considering employing UWB in collision-avoidance radar systems for cars. UWB-based collision-avoidance systems also sense impending wrecks and automatically protect the driver against injury by tightening seat belts and deploying air bags. Long-range radar systems, which use a different wireless technology, are built into a car's cruise control system. This "adaptive cruise control" measures the speed of nearby traffic and adjusts the car's speed accordingly. All of these new technologies, although still in the development stages, are innovative means of reducing the number of motor vehicle crashes on the roads.
Another application of automotive-oriented UWB location-sensing devices is intelligent transportation systems. An example of this would be for cities or highways to develop "smart beacons" based on UWB that perceive wrecks and then transmit this information to sensors approximately a mile or two up the road. The sensors would then flash red or yellow lights to warn motorists of the danger ahead.
FCC Restrictions. Limited to operation on terrestrial transportation vehicles. Devices must operate at 10 dB in the 22 GHz to 29 GHz band with a minimum of 500 MHz bandwidth at all times. The center frequency of the emission and the frequency at which the highest radiated emission occurs must be greater than 24.075 GHz.
Vehicular radars are projected to make up 2 percent of the total UWB unit shipments by 2007. The automobile industry is large but difficult to sell into, because automakers tend to embrace new technologies slowly (for example, Wingcast for telematics). This market also has strong competition from both existing and new competitors. The existing market for collision-avoidance systems is relatively new, and it is expected to reach $2 billion annually within ten years. Today, such systems are used only in luxury cars and big-rig trucks and are targeted by companies such as DRS Technologies, DuPont, Eaton, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Motorola, and Honeywell.