Collaboration brings UWB to social distancing wristwatch

November 13, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
Altran's social distancing wristwatch uses a UWB chipset from Renesas
A collaboration between Altran and Renesas Electronics has developed an ultra-wideband UWB wristwatch platform for precision distance measurement applications and social distancing.

Renesas Electronics and French engineering consultancy Altran have co-developed a wearable platform for social distancing based on Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology from a European deal rather than Bluetooth.

Renesas licensed UWB technology from 3db Access  in Germany in February to add to its microcontroller range in preference to Bluetooth or ultrasonic time of flight (ToF) for precision measurement applications. Several devices have already been launched using UWB for social distancing.

The platform is a wristwatch based around the Renesas Synergy S128 MCU with an ARM Cortex-M0+ microcontroller core, capacitive touch interface and the licensed secure ranging UWB technology. This uses a Low Rate Pulse (LRP) that has one tenth the power consumption of competing UWB and Bluetooth chips and measure distances with an accuracy of 10cm or less – the precision necessary for social distancing applications. The wristwatch’s safe distance is user-configurable; the wearer is alerted by LEDs and haptic feedback when a second device is detected within this range.

Altran, which also includes Cambridge Consultants, will use the UWB-based platform along with other internal assets to develop additional wearable solutions for social distancing as well as related location-based applications for clients across a broad range of markets.

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