Ultra-wideband (UWB) is a close-range radio technology that uses low power consumption to achieve high bandwidth connections. It can pinpoint location accuracy in indoor and underground environments with low interference and high data transfer capabilities.

Its ability to capture highly accurate spatial and directional data is used to support safer work environments. For example, in an underground mine where personnel need to be aware of oncoming vehicles, a UWB tracking system can signal the vehicle, driver, operating room and workers near the active vehicle to signal potential dangers.

The tracking chips actively scan the sounds, precisely lock onto an object, discover its location, and communicate with it.

When a UWB-enabled device, such as the SiriUS-LUX Cap Lamp, is near another UWB-enabled device (GuardIAN Node), the devices begin “ranging”. The roundtrip time of data transfer between the devices is referred to as ‘ranging’, aka the calculation of Time of Flight (ToF). 

UWB technology is now within most modern smartphones and internet of things (IoT) devices. Its adoption is due to the increased accuracy and, like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, its ability to transmit audio and video data and establish connections to computers and other network devices.

Location and Data Accuracy with UWB

Ultra-Wideband tracking can achieve greater accuracy in industrial environments because it uses larger channel bandwidth along with short pulses (nanoseconds). As a result, the location of personnel or assets is instantaneous. This real-time data transfer helps to determine both motion and relative position.

UWB tracking is shown to deliver greater accuracy in line-of-site (LoS), calculating locations with precision by measuring the time of flight. In addition, in non-line-of-sight (nLoS) scenarios where environments have strata, people, and other obstacles, data accuracy is still high.

How Does Ultra-Wideband Positioning Work?

There are two essential signals which aid UWB potential: a run-time method, Time of Flight and Time Difference of Arrival (TDoA). By analytically combining ToF and TDoA, systems can calculate a user’s position with high degrees of accuracy.

Asset tracking frequently uses Ultra-wideband positioning. The position determination is carried out through a run-time method (Time of Flight, ToF).

This method requires multiple anchors (receivers) to pick up the tag’s signals. The data transmitted between receivers and the asset’s tag is continually measured. Systems can calculate the position from this information.

Next, data (ID, ToF, timestamp) are forwarded to a server and processed. Then the output is displayed on any device (smartphone, web application, kiosk).

How Secure are UWB Signals?

One of the significant concerns with other wireless tracking technology is the impact of relay attacks. Relay attacks happen when secondary devices intercept and transmit signals from devices over a larger distance, mimicking a closer location. These generally occur as they rely on signal strength to measure distance, i.e., a weaker signal represents a further distance.  

With UWBs, the faster pulses used to determine distance with ToF currently counteract relay attacks as intercepting signals causes a delay in data transfer and signals a greater distance.

How does UWB Tracking Integrate with the GuardIAN Intelligence Network

Although the GuardIAN product range can be adapted to varied tracking chips, MineARC recommends UWB technology due to its’ accuracy, speed, and data transfer capabilities.

Using the UWB tracking chip within MineARC’s wearable devices (SiriUS-LUX Cap Lamp and Aura-PT Handheld Gas Detector). Location tags transmit the information as each device or person is scanned by receivers; data is transferred via wireless technology to the nearest GuardIAN Node and the GuardIAN Network.

Location systems form a scalable, easy to monitor network, which allows the location of personnel or assets to be mapped—allowing the site and control room to monitor personnel throughout varied scenarios to support more efficient operations and emergency response.

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