FiRa to Transform UWB into a Ranging Standard for New Services

Photo above: NXP’s development board with 2.4GHz IEEE 802.15.4 compliant transceiver

NXP Semiconductors, Samsung, Bosch, Sony, ASSA ABLOY Group, HID,  LitePoint and TTA Established FiRa Consortium to develop fine ranging and positioning capabilities on top of the Ultra-Wideband communication Technology describes in IEEE standard 802.15.4/4z. The new coalition is designed to grow the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) ecosystem so new use cases for fine ranging capabilities.

The FiRa name, which stands for “Fine Ranging,” highlights UWB technology’s unique ability to deliver accurate measurements of distance or determining the relative position of a target. The consortium members believe that UWB technology can outperforms other technologies in terms of accuracy, power consumption, robustness in RF connection, and security.

IEEE standard 802.15.4/4z defines the essential characteristics for low-data-rate wireless connectivity and enhanced ranging. FiRa Consortium to develop an interoperability standard based on the IEEE’s profiled features, defining mechanisms that are out of scope of the IEEE standard to support rapid development of specific use cases.

Some of these use cases include Seamless Access Control, Location-Based Services and Device-to-Device (Peer-to-Peer) Services. In Seamless Access Control, UWB can identify an individual’s approach toward or away from a secured entrance, verify security credentials, and let the authorized individual pass through the entrance without physically presenting the credential.

In Location-Based Services, UWB can offers precise positioning, even in congested multipath signal environments, making it easier to navigate large venues such as airports and shopping malls or find a car in a multi-story parking garage. In Device-to-Device use case, it may provide precise relative distance and direction between two devices, and letting devices to find the relative location of each other, even without infrastructures such as anchors or access points.

The 802.15.4 standard is widely used in a variety of applications that use ranging capabilities. In January 2018, in response to demand for enhanced operation, the 802.15.4z working group was established to define the PHY and MAC layers for High Rate PHY (HRP) and Low Rate PHY (LRP). IEEE 802.15.4z will focus on additional coding and preamble options, as well as improvements to existing modulations to increase the integrity and accuracy of ranging measurements, with a typical range of up 200 meters for the radio.

FiRa Consortium is focused on what the IEEE has already established for HRP to definemechanisms which are out of scope of the IEEE standard, including an application layer. The Consortium is also pursues other activities, such as developing service-specific protocols for multiple verticals and defining parameters for a range of applications, including physical access control, location-based services, device-to-device services, and more.