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Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
August 19, 2019

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State of Physical Access Trend Report 2024

FiRa Consortium launched with mission to expand ultra-wideband ecosystem

Some of the biggest names in access control, secure connectivity and mobile/CE device solutions have launched a consortium tasked with growing the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) ecosystem.

The FiRa (short for ‘Fine Ranging’) Consortium says that UWB technology far outperforms other technologies in terms of accuracy, security, power consumption and RF connection robustness.

The companies behind the consortium – ASSA ABLOY Group, which includes HID Global, plus NXP Semiconductors, Samsung Electronics and Bosch – believe UWB technology can deliver unrivalled accuracy when measuring distance or a target’s relative position.

The FiRa Consortium has promised members – so far including Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc, LitePoint and the Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) – greater influence over industry trends, early access to technical details, certification for interoperable products, and a role in expanding and benefiting from the UWB ecosystem.

Use cases

Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon the FiRa Consortium will develop an interoperability standard based on profile features of the IEEE standard 802.15.4/4z, which defines the essential characteristics for low-data-rate wireless connectivity and enhanced ranging. The new standard will define mechanisms beyond the scope of IEEE and support development of use cases.

“As an industry consortium, we believe UWB technology can transform the way people experience connectivity, and we’re committed to the widespread adoption of interoperable UWB technologies,” said Charlie Zhang, chair of the FiRa Consortium and VP engineering, Samsung Electronics.

The mooted benefits of UWB include identifying an individual’s approach towards or away from a secured entrance, verifying security credentials, and permitting entry of authorised individuals without them having to physically present a credential.

It can also benefit location-based services since UWB offers precise positioning, even in congested multipath signal environments. Potential applications include large spaces like airports and shopping malls or in locating cars in multi-story parking garages.

Measuring precise relative distances and direction between two devices, UWB lets devices find the relative location of each other without anchors or access points – potentially helping people find each another in crowded spaces or finding items located in hidden areas.

With low power spectral density, UWB creates little interference with other wireless standards, creating possibilities for dual use with other wireless technologies like Near Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

“The FiRa Consortium’s commitment to a complete ecosystem means we will work with other consortia and industry players to develop approaches and define parameters,” said Charles Dachs, vice-chair of the FiRa Consortium and GM and VP, secure embedded transactions, NXP Semiconductors.

Ramesh Songukrishnasamy, director and treasurer of the FiRa Consortium, and SVP and CTO of HID Global says, “We encourage anyone, from any relevant industry area, who has a vested interest in the success of UWB to join us and contribute to the consortium’s work.”

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