Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Ultrawideband Signal Passes Data Through Walls 139

Posted by Zonk
from the wireless-fight-out dept.
writertype writes "You may already be familiar with ultrawideband; UWB technology has been specifically talked about and designed to replace wired USB connections for over a year. Due to its high bandwidth, it's also been considered as an A/V cable replacement. The problem is that UWB radio performance degrades precipitously, effectively confining it to a single room. Until now, that is. Startup TZero says its UWB implementation provides high throughput through walls. Will this be an effective competitor to 802.11n?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ultrawideband Signal Passes Data Through Walls

Comments Filter:
  • by IntelliAdmin (941633) * on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:48PM (#15490091) Homepage
    The speed increases are nice with this technology. The problem is physics. As it stands UWB runs from 3.1GHZ to 10.6GHZ. Radio in this band operates much like visible light - it is easily blocked by walls and other obstacles. Because of this I think that 802.11b/a/c/n are going to be around for a long time

    Windows Admin Tools [intelliadmin.com]
    • Is the difference between 2.4 and 3.1GHz matters that much?
      • 3.1GHz - 2.4GHz = 700 MHz

        Hmm not much difference at all in the propagation between 5 MHz signals and 705 MHz signals.
        • Don't be too quick to point out an error--what would be a better description is the ratio between the frequencies--comparing 5MHz to 705MHz (a ratio of 141) when he compared 3.1 and 2.4GHz (a ratio of 1.2).
        • There is virtually no difference between those two frequencies in terms of ability to penetrate objects. 2.4GHz would be superior but a much more important factor would be the amount of power used... or more specifically EIRP.
        • by pe1chl (90186) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @05:11PM (#15490654)
          Try 802.11g and 802.11a equipment side-by-side. You will find that the 802.11a (5.5 GHz) equipment has considerably more difficulty over non-line-of-sight paths than 802.11g (2.4 GHz) has.
          • Yes but you are free to use more power with 11a than 11g which balances out its weakness in solid object penetration. And the greater power enables better LOS distances which makes it superior for point-to-point fixed wireless usage. Overall 11a is better unless there happens to be a ton of inband interferrence or a PCS cell tower in the region which hits the 5.8GHz frequency range with a third harmonic.
            • by pe1chl (90186) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @06:42PM (#15491145)
              I recently built a 400m (a quarter mile) link using 802.11a pointtopoint equipment (1W ERP, max legal power here).
              It is line-of-sight w.r.t. buildings, but there was a group of trees inbetween. The signal had to pass trough maybe 20 meters of foilage.

              The link barely worked. Sometimes 6 Mbps, sometimes 12 Mbps.
              Relocating one of the endpoints so that those trees were out of the way (actual position lower than it was, now just skimming a building) improved the signal by about 20dB.

              Result: 54Mbps link and power output decreased by 5-6dB (by TPC). Could probably gain another 6dB by having more clearance above the building.

              I really did not expect this, comparing with results on 2.4 GHz.
              You are right that allowed ERP on 2.4 is lower, but I think there would have been a big difference in path loss in this case.
              • It's extremely difficult to gauge foliage attenuation. It literally varies as the wind blows. Because of the wavelength, 5.8GHz also requires less fresnel zone clearance compared to 2.4GHz so if you were skimming the top of the trees on a marginal link, the blockage at 2.4GHz would be more severe, perhaps enough to dip you below the required signal-to-noise ratio.

                If the trees were dense and the power ouput the same then 2.4GHz would win out.
    • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:00PM (#15490185) Homepage Journal
      As it stands UWB runs from 3.1GHZ to 10.6GHZ. Radio in this band operates much like visible light

      Oh Microwave. Now your usb harddrive will save your data and cook your eggs all at once :)
    • I wonder, if, as you say, it's something like light could it be routed through a "fiber-optic"-like material? This way you could have some kind of passive recieving element on one end of this fiber and then run it through the wall or through the ceiling just like cat 5, and on the other end you have another passive trancieving material.

      I don't know enough about UWB yet for this to be more than fantastical speculation - but if this range of frequency can be reflected and refracted like light it would seem
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I wonder, if, as you say, it's something like light could it be routed through a "fiber-optic"-like material? This way you could have some kind of passive recieving element on one end of this fiber and then run it through the wall or through the ceiling just like cat 5, and on the other end you have another passive trancieving material.

        What? Like an antenna
      • I wonder, if, as you say, it's something like light could it be routed through a "fiber-optic"-like material? This way you could have some kind of passive recieving element on one end of this fiber and then run it through the wall or through the ceiling just like cat 5, and on the other end you have another passive trancieving material.
        So basically what your suggesting is that in order to have a working wireless connection you need a wire ?
      • I wonder, if, as you say, it's something like light could it be routed through a "fiber-optic"-like material?

        Yes. That is commonly called "waveguide". It operates exacty like a fiber-optic cable, but at the wavelength of these signals.
        Of course, the wavelength being 3-10cm it needs to be physically larger than the fiber for 800nm wavelength "light".

        Waveguide often has an air dielectricum, and the dimensions for this wavelength would be slightly smaller than the wavelength. This makes it a bit less practi
    • by Moby Cock (771358) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @05:25PM (#15490734) Homepage
      One major issue with UWB is the antenna design. Its proving very hard to built antennas that have constant gain over the whole BW. As a result, the antenna essentially induces a transfer function on the transmitted (or recieved) signal. It could be possible to compensate using DSP in the Tx or Rx circuits, however the transfer function is different for differing RF environments. That is, move the metal legged table in your living room and the compensation algorithms are no longer valid. There are a few new antenna designs being proposed that focus on ensuring the s21 values are constant over the whole UWB spectrum, but its still early days with those.

      The 'going through walls' part is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. That will come when the RF aspects of UWB are better designed.
    • > Because of this I think that 802.11b/a/c/n are going to be around for a long time.

      Well, we can always hope for a breakthrough with 802.11d, e, i, k, l, m, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, or z. :-)
  • by Ignignot (782335) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:53PM (#15490125) Journal
    Great, so now my idiot neighbors can make even more interference, and this time whenever they tune in to see Lost, I'll lose my internet connection. Will I at least be able to see what they are seeing?
    • Re:Getting Crowded (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      Do not worry. They will not.

      The only reason UWB has even started being considered by regulators in most countries was the assumption that it will be limited to a line of sight.

      UWB that goes through walls will make all the early fears resurface once more and delay regulatory approval for UWB where necessary.

      Frankly some of the pushers of competing tech like 802.11n should invest into this technology ASAP.
      • I thought the reason UWB was being considered was that it spreads out interference over a such a wide part of the spectrum that any narrow frequency band could easily reject that interference. Maybe I'm thinking UWB as general concept instead of UWB as a product name?
  • Quick response... (Score:5, Informative)

    by JPamplin (804322) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:54PM (#15490135) Homepage
    Will this be an effective competitor to 802.11n?

    Um, no. 802.11n has significantly greater range (as a spec, at least). Plus, if this company is claiming to have developed it, I don't think they will just give it up for free. 802.11n is a public standard.

    So, no. ;-)

    • Different markets (Score:3, Informative)

      by VoiceOfDog (648178)
      Ultrawideband is being developed as a WPAN [wikipedia.org] standard for IEEE 802.15.3a, which aims to provide a high (~20Mbps) alternative to Bluetooth. .15.3a is being called "WiMedia" and is intended for use in the Wireless USB (WUSB) standard. This is clearly the market this company is trying to address.
      WPAN (Personal Area Networks), like Bluetooth or ZigBee, aim at a different market than WLAN (WiFi). For a WPAN, it may be advantageous to have a shorter range to reduce interference.
      Extending the range to blur the
    • Re:Quick response... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Moby Cock (771358)
      802.11n uses MIMO, whereas UWB does not (as yet).
      UWB is not designed for long range, it is meant for very low power rich message passing
      Neither are proprietary


      I agree that 802.11n and UWB will not dethrone one another, because they are not really equivalent or competeting.
  • on UWB? How do you keep these things on seperate networks? What's the max number of connections? Anybody know this yet? I can't find it on wikipedia...

    • Anybody know this yet? I can't find it on wikipedia...

      Why do people insist on treating Wikipedia as a reliable source of information?? Use your favorite search engine, find an authoritative source, and be on your way.

      A quick Google search for "UWB" && "ultra wide band" reveals a number of good sources, including Intel and the UWB Forum. But hey, since those apparently aren't good enough, Wikipedia is the second link on the first page of results. Go nuts.

  • Other uses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by loraksus (171574) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:55PM (#15490142) Homepage
    These folks didn't seem to have too much trouble trying to get the signal through walls ;)

    http://www.uwb.org/RadarVision2i/rv2iperf.htm [uwb.org]
    That is a pretty primitive picture, some of the stuff in labs is quite a bit more advanced.

    BTW, is anyone noticing font corruption on that page in Firefox?
  • "Will this be an effective competitor to 802.11n?" No.
    • The answer could be "yes" if it's in regards to frequency ranges. Sorta how cordless phones running at 2.4Ghz causes hell with wireless 802.11 b/g devices.
  • by also-rr (980579) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:03PM (#15490203) Homepage
    But I find that for the best data rate through walls all that one requires is a sledge hammer and a fibre optic cable.
  • Yea yea yea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:05PM (#15490217)
    UWB technology has been specifically talked about and designed to replace wired USB connections for over a year. Due to its high bandwidth, it's also been considered as an A/V cable replacement.

    Yea, yea, yea... That sounds so desperately trying to hype it up. Just a month ago we were discussing that current digital A/V *cables* can't handle high enough resolutions for some larger (resolution) monitors out there, which requires two or even four DVI cables.

    We've discussed also how the new standard introduced, is just as bad (despite claims to "scale indefinitely", in theory, with other equipment and all that..).

    Now this is of course gonna replace everything, including food and water in one year. Therefore buy our shares and give us venture capital. Screw it.

    The problem is that UWB radio performance degrades precipitously, effectively confining it to a single room. Until now, that is. Startup TZero says its UWB implementation provides high throughput through walls. Will this be an effective competitor to 802.11n?

    I don't get it: we have enough problems with people logging into our wifi networks because it passes through walls already (even if it's password protected and so on, it can be hacked into), and now they found a way to do the same with UWB? I kinda like it in my room only, neighbours will have to buy theirs.
  • Of course not. (Score:3, Informative)

    by electrosoccertux (874415) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:06PM (#15490227)
    Not when UWB's output power is limited so that its range is only 30 feet. [intel.com]
  • by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:07PM (#15490238) Homepage
    Time to upgrade the ol' tin foil hat. Maybe some shiny stickers...
  • Due to its high bandwidth, it's also been considered as an A/V cable replacement. The problem is that UWB radio performance degrades precipitously, effectively confining it to a single room.

    I'd love to have all of my A/V electronics connected wirelessly. I don't care if it would only work within one room for now cause all of my stuff's in one room, probably like most people. So why isn't this commonplace yet? I hate all the wires running around my living room.
    • I'd love to have all of my A/V electronics connected wirelessly. I don't care if it would only work within one room for now cause all of my stuff's in one room, probably like most people.

      Go on do it. Reminds me of the inventors of X-Rays. They wanted to scan everything and make X-Ray movies from it, since it's so neat to see inside of a living creature: mice, cats, dogs... themselves too. There's hours and hours of movie material of them trying it when their wear rings, watches and all sort of non-sense.

      Mos
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:17PM (#15490300)
    as anyone knows reading my coments knows i am no IT guy, but i do work construction and done it for years, most commercial office buildings are built not with lumber and a lot of what is called sheetmetal stud and track, also there is sheetmetal HVAC ducts & etc.; lots of metal, well anyhow metal always blocks radio signals so within a large building with enough walls to go through i can see why wireless will have limitations...

    i would imagine a large enough office building would benefit from a repeater system like some ham and commercial radio systems already use...
    • i would imagine a large enough office building would benefit from a repeater system like some ham and commercial radio systems already use...
      Funny you mention that.

      Repeaters were part of the "big picture" when it came to cellular phone service & buildings. Guess what never happened?
  • If your data won't pass through walls, then you just need a bigger hammer... ;)
  • n is still better (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MooseTick (895855) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:21PM (#15490328) Homepage
    802.11n makes many improvements over 11.g. It provides for greater redundancy(MIMO), security, speed(400MBPS+), and more distant coverage. It is also an open standard so anyone can use it without worring about paying someone license fees today, tomorrow, or 3 years from now when it is commonplace. Since its speed can allow multiple hdtv connections to stream at once and the costs should not be any greater than 11b or 11g devices, the n standard will soon dominate wireless networking and connections.
    • MIMO Myth (Score:3, Informative)

      by katharsis83 (581371)
      It's a common myth that MIMO - sticking on multiple antennas - is for redundancy purposes.

      If you actually crunch through the math, increasing the number of antennas basically increases the theoretical capacity of the wireless channel, meaning faster transmission speeds over the same distance/attenuation/power. So the extra antennas aren't in case one antenna fails, it's to increase transmission speeds.
  • Why do you need it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:22PM (#15490336) Journal
    From my understanding of the article, this is intended as a wireless protocol for USB devices. That being so, why would you need it to go through walls, or better yet, why would you want it to?

    Personally, in 99% of the cases, I'd be more than happy to have my USB signals stay put where nobody but me can read them... despite the assurance about "security being mandatory" we all know that in most cases if a signal can be picked up, it can be hacked.

    The only reason I might want something that passes through walls is if I decided to stick a media server, etc in the closet, and have it controlled by a local device connected by UWB... and either a wireless or hardwired connection for the video.
  • No Data (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thePig (964303) <{rajmohan_h} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:24PM (#15490353) Journal
    The article (press release ??) has NO data whatsoever on how they solved this issue?
    Since the high frequency makes it *very* less able to go around objects, how did they do it indeed?
    Were they able to use EIT ?

    BTW, they did not speak about the degradation pattens in the article.
    Any ideas on the same?
    • Re:No Data (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mike Buddha (10734)
      To get the wireless to work through walls, you have to use their patented Universal Wall Hole(tm) technology to prep each wall for optimum wireless performance.
  • Fix the drawback (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MoogMan (442253)
    One thing I never liked about USB, is that you can't use the connector "upside-down" (I'm sure there's probably a technical word for this... symmetrical or something).

    I hope this UWB - being a successor of USB - has connectors that work "upside-down". Oh wait...
    • Or you could just plug it in correctly. I can't think of a single computer connector, other than the power adapter on my laptop, where there isn't a wrong way to plug it in.
      • by Russellkhan (570824) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @05:40PM (#15490834)
        I think the thing that makes it annoying with USB is that there's no simple visual cue (e.g. shape of the plug) to tell you which way to plug it. There is that little plastic bit on one side, but for some reason I have a harder time remembering which side of the USB socket has the plastic bit than I do remembering for example which way the wider side of a VGA socket faces.
        • by Ksevio (865461)
          There's typically a crack in the metal on the bottom, and a usb symbol on the top.
        • Part of the problem is that the port you are plugging into is sometimes itself inverted or even vertical. Then there is no way to be sure, it's literally a 50/50 shot every time unless you have a very good memory or only interact with a few machines. I've got three with vertical sockets that I regularly swap devices on and it took a while to get it right most of the time.

          On the other hand, I can't think of a better alternative, other than basic audio jacks that are rotationally symetrical. But that design

          • "On the other hand, I can't think of a better alternative, other than basic audio jacks that are rotationally symetrical. But that design usually has issues with leaving contacts exposed when the wire is unplugged, something USB is pretty good at dealing with."

            I can. Something with a plug whose shape indicates which direction it needs to be plugged and with a fairly standard pattern to the direction that the socket is mounted. Examples include Firewire, VGA, old fashioned serial/parallel, SCSI...even PS2 (a
    • Whoever modded him as 'Insightful' needs to RTFA, or even RTFS. Or buy a clue. Seriously, you kids these days... ;-)
      • Looking at my usb key - it only has four pins and a metal outside, so five total.
        This should be easy to make into a concentric design, like audio plugs. That way
        you just plug it in, no orientation required. You could even, you know, rotate the
        connector in the socket [gasp]. I did not moderate but I also think the gp is
        insightful.
    • Well, they'd have to include a small pan to collect all the bits that fall out when you do that. Otherwise, I think it's a great idea.
  • by git68 (957160)
    If this works as advertised I will be able to use my wireless keyboard and mouse in a different room to my PC.

    Oh wait!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    For short range communication, uwb could be quite simple to implement. It could indeed be a replacement for cables for all kinds of things. Once you try to push the range, things get more miserable. The question is then, what benefit you expect to gain and what costs might you face.

    Any kind of wireless communication pushes up the general noise level. If the communication is restricted to a certain bandwidth, the noise affects other users of the same bandwidth. On the other hand, uwb will affect people
  • "10-4 Good Buddy" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LM741N (258038) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @05:04PM (#15490618)
    It will work great until your neighbor on CB running 10kW speaks into the mic.
    (same for BPL Internet)
  • mommy! (Score:4, Funny)

    by bigattichouse (527527) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @05:24PM (#15490726) Homepage
    Mommy, I feel all tingly inside!

    Oh, sweety - thats just the Ultawideband USB, now with extra radiation!

    Oooo, it feels like progress! But my hair is falling out!

    Thats ok honey, thats how you know it's working!
  • by Phreakiture (547094) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @06:39PM (#15491132) Homepage

    The TZero name is already taken. Anyway, I'd much rather have this TZero [acpropulsion.com].

  • by Dr. Zowie (109983) <slashdot@@@deforest...org> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @07:12PM (#15491279)
    Will this be an effective competitor to 802.11?

    Ye Gods, I hope not. UWB is absolutely terrific so long as a limited number of people use it -- but it's one of those solutions that sound great until you multiply by 10,000,000 installed devices -- then everyone's radio noise floor goes up, stealing bandwidth (range, really) from things like FM music, shortwave, air traffic control, and emergency services. By that time it's too late, because you can't track down and eliminate 10^7 devices -- short of nuking the city centers.

  • I have been looking around for this kind of implementation for a while now but haven't found anything either available or affordable. My current living situation just doesn't allow for the wiring needed to enjoy surround sound properly, if they could do this with a wireless UWB receiver broadcasting to mini receptors in the speakers it would be perfect... right?
  • Now I can download ISO's using my neighbours wireless, then burn it to a disc using his external UWD drive. Any advice for how to get the CD's without raising his suspicion?

Never ask two questions in a business letter. The reply will discuss the one you are least interested, and say nothing about the other.

Working...