Korean electronics giant Samsung wants a piece of the precise positioning market.

Nick Wood

March 22, 2023

2 Min Read
Samsung makes its ultra-wideband move

Korean electronics giant Samsung wants a piece of the precise positioning market.

The company on Tuesday announced its first ultra-wideband chipset (UWB). It launched it alongside a new sub-brand – ‘Exynos Connect’ – which encompasses not only Samsung’s UWB products but also its Bluetooth and Wi-Fi solutions, bringing them into line with its Exynos semiconductor division.

Samsung’s first UWB chip, the Exynos Connect U100, “combines sophisticated ranging and positioning capabilities with strong security to enable hyper-connectivity between people and everyday objects, fuelling a range of new applications in positioning and location tracking,” said Joonsuk Kim, EVP of the connectivity development team at Samsung Electronics, in a statement.

UWB is a short-range wireless technology that makes use of frequencies from 500 MHz up to multiple Gigahertz – hence the ‘ultra-wideband’ moniker. When a UWB device comes within range of another, they can calculate their relative positions by transmitting data to each other and measuring the time it takes to complete a round trip. Data is sent in pulses every nanosecond, so that location information is constantly being updated in real time.

As a result, UWB can offer positioning and movement data down to single-digit centimetres, making it more precise than the likes of GPS and Bluetooth. There are many potential use cases for it, such as asset tracking, or indoor navigation systems for autonomous factory vehicles, for example. Smart locks for buildings and cars would also benefit, not only because they would be able to detect with much greater accuracy when a key is in close enough proximity to unlock, but also because UWB comes with data encryption baked in.

Samsung also sees the potential to use UWB in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) devices. Headsets and AR glasses require precise positioning in order to mimic real-time physical movements in a virtual environment, or to accurately overlay virtual objects in a physical space.

“Building on our technology leadership in communications technologies, we are committed to driving innovation in short-range communication solutions to transform the way we connect and relate to the world around us,” Kim said.

UWB has existed for decades, but has until recently been largely overlooked. It is perhaps because it was pitched originally as a data transfer technology, pitting it against Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which had a more mature ecosystem at the time.

However, OEMs are always on the lookout for new bells and whistles to cram into their gadgets, not the least of which is Apple, which uses UWB in its AirTags. These small, keyring-shaped devices enable people to use their iPhone to keep track of personal belongings like wallets and bags and so-on.

With renewed interest in UWB fuelled by its precise-positioning prowess, it looks like the technology will finally get its moment in the sun.


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About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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