[Cu-wireless] summary of an ultrawideband demo at FCC

David Young dyoung at pobox.com
Fri Feb 14 16:09:28 CST 2003



----- Forwarded message from Rick Doten <rdoten at netsec.net> -----

From: Rick Doten <rdoten at netsec.net>
To: "'Tim Pozar'" <pozar at lns.com>, wireless at lists.bawug.org
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2656.59)
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 16:30:58 -0500

Thanks for the heads up about this Tim, I attended the demonstration and
have blogged my experience below:

The three main technologies on display from the half-dozen companies
represented where:  high-speed wireless multimedia, ground penetrating
radar, and stealthy radio communications.  

For those who don't know, UWB is a technique to deliver data over an
extremely wide spectrum. When I mean wide, here is an example:  802.11b uses
a spread spectrum of 2.400 to 2.483Ghz; UWB uses between something obscene
like a 3Ghz -10Ghz spread.  It is a carrier-less system that looks like
noise to the rest of the world.  Since it doesn't need to "tune" to a
specific frequency, the chips use very low power, and are very cheap.  The
antenna is a simple flat panel (<1" square) since it doesn't need to be a
specific length of a wavelength.  Some of the great things about the
technology are that it doesn't interfere with other wireless technologies
(so far), it has high bandwidth potential (100Mbs), and is great indoors
because it both goes through walls, and also bounces off walls very well (I
know that is contradictory, but I don't want to go into too much detail
here).  Because it steps on licensed bands, the FCC has regulated it to only
allow its use with very low power.   So it is, legally, only good up to
about 10 meters.

XtremeSpectrum www.xtremespectrum.com was probably the most interesting demo
for consumers.  They were in a small room and only could demonstrate to
crowds of about 20 people per session, so you had to wait to see it-making
it seem more exciting.  They had two of their boxes about 3 meters apart and
were streaming 2 HDTV signals from one to the other and displaying the
picture on 2 large flat screen TVs.  They did this with a 2.4Ghz portable
phone, a 802.11a, wireless card, and a Sprint PCS phone all working in the
room without interference.  They even put a piece of drywall (and then his
hand) in front of the sending antenna to show how it bounces around it.
Their big thing is streaming multimedia.  They see video cameras, DVD
players, and audio systems all using this technology to replace the wires to
the TV and speakers (sorry Monster Cable).  The technology is a capacity of
100Mbs.  They are getting 65Mbs real throughput.  For reference, a HDTV
video stream is 20Mbs, so you could have 3 concurrent streams of digital
video. They are only focusing on one-way streaming though--look for someone
else to come up with a two-way system for data in the next few months.  They
(and others) are using the 802.15.3 standard to put a MAC layer on the UWB

Another company representing was Multispectral Solutions
http://www.multispectral.com/.  They had a number of products that included
UWB radar, packet radio systems, and stealthy communications.  Because UWB
uses such a wide spectrum, at low speeds it is completely undetectable and
looks like noise.   These guys had helmets that used this technology along
with crypto chips to make it even more secure for two-way voice
communications.  Another application they had was electronic tag tracking.
Because the chips use so little power, small electronic tags (with watch
batteries) can be placed on people or things and tracked throughout a space.

Another cool application was from Time Domain Corporation
http://www.timedomain.com/; they had thru wall imaging devices.  Anyone who
has played Rogue Spear and used a heartbeat monitor knows the value of this.
You take this small suitcase sized device and put it against a wall and you
can see blobs where people are on the other side.  The display looks a lot
like a pregnancy ultra-sound (triangular).  They had this device attached to
a short wall and you could see the display as the marketing guy walked
around behind it.  You could really only make out a cloud moving around, but
that's all you need to identify where the bad guys are.

Sensors & Software Inc, Geophysical Survey Systems Inc, and Mala GeoScience
were all about ground penetrating radar.  They had lawnmower looking devices
that could identify stuff under ground or concrete.  The FCC allows for
higher power levels in the UWB for these devices.  Since some frequency
waves can penetrate materials where other small waves bounce off, they can
fingerprint different things underground to find pipes, wires, or liquid.
If you ever had someone check your yard for utilities before you build a
deck or dig, they were most likely using handheld versions of this
technology (since not all utility lines are discoverable with a metal

If you want to learn more, the links that I included above have good
background and white papers about the technology.  I think it's going to be
big in the next couple years.  Future applications could be as a last mile
solution, high-speed network access over longer distances, or electronic
tagging of products in stores.   

There is a commercial that I once saw were a guy in a trench coat was
walking around a grocery store putting stuff in his coat.  A detector beeped
when he was walking out the door, and a security guard said, "Excuse me
sir."  The man pauses and looks back, and the guard continues, "You forgot
your receipt."   This concept could be accomplished by having electronic
tags and have the scanner debit your account like the toll road smart tags
or ExxonMobil Easypass.  Pretty cool.

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Pozar [mailto:pozar at lns.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 7:55 PM
To: wireless at lists.bawug.org

For those in the DC area.  It looks like a show-and-tell for all
the vendors doing UWB.

----- End forwarded message -----

David Young             OJC Technologies
dyoung at ojctech.com      Engineering from the Right Brain
                        Urbana, IL * (217) 278-3933

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