The hidden force behind technology innovation & adoption - The power of standardization
Jan 5, 2023
The crucial importance of standardization and why it matters
Wireless applications prosper best within the sphere of industry standards. Standards allow devices from different vendors to interoperate, a feature that is paramount in applications ranging from RTLS to industrial automation and IoT. Standards offer customers the freedom to purchase from a larger pool of suppliers thereby increasing a user's ability to compare competing products. And most importantly, industry standards play a critical role in R&D, simplify product development and reduce non-value-adding cost.
Let’s take a closer look.
7 benefits of standardization in wireless communication
1. Systematic cost savings: Standardization reduces the costs associated with the development and deployment of wireless technologies, as it allows manufacturers to produce devices that are compatible with a wide range of other devices and solutions.
2. Improved interoperability: Standardization ensures that devices from different manufacturers can communicate with each other, essential for the widespread adoption of any technology.
3. Increased innovation: Standardization provides a common platform that allows different companies to build upon and innovate, leading to the development of new and improved products and services.
4. Advanced efficiency & scalability: Standardization simplifies product development and speeds time-to-market achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness and creating scalable infrastructures.
5. Enhanced security and safety: Standardization helps to ensure that wireless devices are secure and that the data transmitted between them is protected.
6. Global market access: Standardization allows manufacturers to sell their products in different countries, as they are able to meet the necessary regulatory requirements.
7. Guaranteed future-proofing: Standardization provides a robust, quality-driven infrastructure that enables rapid expansion. Endorsed by support from large players and disruptive innovators, standardization generates built-in trustworthiness.
Why UWB standardization is essential for global market access
The IEEE 802.15.4 is the technical standard that defines the operation of low-rate wireless personal area networks and the first version to introduce UWB was the IEEE 802.15.4a,released in August 2007. The clear definitions from theIEE802.15.4 standard specify three frequency bands, yielding 16 radio channels in total. Regulation has followed and every country’s regional regulatory authorities define which of these bands can or cannot be used geographically, resulting in well-defined UWB regulations. The new generation of UWB chipsets allows new regions, such as Japan, to be covered with the same technology. Today the situation is clear and fixed in all the principal geographies, while in some smaller countries, it is evolving rapidly and converging with existing local regulations.
Global regulations enable worldwide coverage
Instances like the UWB Alliance also helpto support UWB adoption by actively lobbying on different levels to makeoutdoor UWB regulations more flexible.
The concern with UWB could be that thesignal occupies such a wide bandwidth (500 MHz to 1300 MHz as defined in theIEEE802.15.4 standard) that the potential of interference with other wirelesscommunication technologies occupying the same spectrum becomes real. This isunfounded since the power levels for UWB transmission are extremely low comparedto the potentially impacted services. UWB has also developed a number ofmitigation strategies that regulators have adopted to avoid interference.
Hence, as standards are globally adopted and applied in many markets, theyalso fuel international trade.
With the standardization maturing to guarantee future-proof solutions, it was Decawave (currently Qorvo) to release the first commercial UWB radio chip in 2013 to support the IEEE 802.15.4 - 2015version, under which still resides the bulk of the currently shipped and usedUWB devices today.
The most recent IEEE 802.15.4z,optimized for commercial UWB use and released at the end of 2020 is supportedtoday by Qorvo’s new generation chipset and by NXP. Additional semiconductorvendors are ready to complete the list: Apple, producing its own U1 UWB chips(the “U” stands for UWB), ST Micro, and imechave all invested heavily in the development of UWB chips, which furtherconfirms that UWB is the rising star in the firmament.
It is clear that the landscape of UWB chips available for commercial use is rapidly expanding. Each of the vendors has developed radio chips to support specific IEEE 802.15.4 standard versions and the different standard alliances (applications) that operate in different communication channels. The succeeding chipset product development cycles result in lower power consumption, smaller form-factor, and support for a broader range of features. Technologies will never become globally successful when based on an exclusive offering.
The industry adoption is fueled by the variety of semiconductor offerings to choose from to allow competition (on specs and features) to avoid the much loathed vendor lock-in and to allow future interoperability between different UWB devices. And obviously, as the production of UWB chips continues to ramp up over time it holds the promise of a lower price.
Which alliances & consortiums standardize UWB applications
Multiple standards have been defined for UWB communication. Apart from the technical standard IEEE 802.15.4, several standardization bodies, each with its specific focus, business scope and goals, operate to bring standardization to UWB. Technologies will only endure when they are backed by a robust, quality-driven infrastructure that enables rapid expansion, providing a favorable regulatory and spectrum management landscape to secure and maximize UWB growth.
The Car Connectivity Consortium, also the CCC, for advancing global technologies for smartphone-to-car connectivity solutions and keyless hands-free access control.
The UWB Alliance established to foster the use of UWB technology solutions, promote industry growth and a favorable regulatory environment, has combined its efforts with the FiRa Consortium in 2020 to promote UWB ecosystems and toaccelerate the development and adoption of UWB Technology.
The FiRa Consortium, originally focusing on peer-to-peer applications is now developing use cases across many industries, including hands-free access control, indoor location, and navigation.
TheOmlox open standard for Real-Time Location Services (RTLS).
The omlox hub provides standardized interfaces for retrieving location information from a wide variety of localization techniques, such as UWB, RFID, 5G, BLE, WiFi, and GPS.
In addition, omlox also specifies the omlox core which provides standardized interactions for UWB based RTLS systems, and enables networking across UWB products, regardless of the manufacturer.
As a word of warning, there are also pseudo-standards that essentially are proprietary solutions disguised by the user community as an open platform, where essentially there is just a single provider behind the technology.
No clear winner - no competition
The future will tell which of these standards will win the market, but for now it seems that their focus is clearly defined in different application spaces anddifferent feature sets in order not to compete. The support from the big players confirms that all options are still open to define which will prevail and be most successful.
Next up - Why did Pozyx join omlox?
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Successful businesses benefit from standards both by actively participating in the standardization process and by using standards as strategic market instruments.
Pozyx is a firm believer that wireless technology prospers under the efforts of standardization bodies. Technologies only endure when they are backed by a robust, quality-driven infrastructure that enables rapid expansion, endorsed by support from large players and disruptive innovators.
Pozyx has been an omlox partner since the beginning. We embrace the strength of the omlox community and actively contribute to the standard with technological expertise combined with insights on challenging use cases. omlox provides a great environment that propagates the use of interoperable locating systems and enables easy integration of different location technologies and applications. We believe that RTLS will become a multi-tech solution, as defined in the omlox hub. “Super Tags” combining UWB technology with GPS, BLE or 5G will support both indoor and outdoor use cases and allow a seamless transition from the different connectivity solutions used. With smart manufacturing RTLS solutions backed by the omlox standard and different technologies, each injecting optimized location data to fuel the RTLS, the addition of new use cases that run from the same infrastructure will soon become a reality. And that is exactly why Pozyx supports omlox.
Samuel Van de Velde – CTO
Contributing our knowledge and expertise in Industry 4.0 solutions will help the vibrant omlox ecosystem to flourish in the future.
Standardization alliances play an important role in the wireless industry by promoting interoperability, security, cost savings, innovation, and global market access. Open standards recognized by multiple chip and technology providers guarantee the lowest cost and continuity of supply, avoiding the single-source trap and providing future-proof solutions. Moreover, standards help to build consumer trust: when businesses and consumers are confident that products will work as expected, they are more likely to buy them. In short, as wireless technology continues to evolve, industry standards pave the road to the future.