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Information & Communication Technologies

Future Networks : Connecting the Digital Society


Going wireless for extra home comfort and transport safety: EU-funded ultra-wide band technology seen through EUWB (European Ultra-Wideband) project

Wherever you may find yourself - at home, on an intercontinental flight or enjoying an exciting road trip - staying connected is no longer a whim, but a real necessity. EUWB (Coexisting Short Range Radio by Advanced Ultra-Wideband Radio Technology), an EU-funded FP7 project in the "Future Networks" area, has taken Ultra Wide Band Radio Technology (UWB) some good steps further. EUWB uses this technology to develop smarter solutions for more efficient home entertainment, air travel and cars. This effort helps define the aim of the Digital Agenda for Europe: turning "Every European Digital".

Part of the EU-funded Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, EUWB has already marked outstanding results, just a few months to completion. This may not come as a surprise, given its impressive €20m budget and the 26 project team members, all representing top-class European academia, industry and the private sector. What EUWB brings anew is an improved approach towards the user-friendliness and safety of home electronics, airplanes and cars respectively.

UWB in a nutshell

UWB is a radio technology that uses very low energy, but over a large bandwidth (>500 MHz). It has the ability to coexist with more traditional narrowband and continuous carrier wave communications that use the same frequency bands. The benefit of UWB is threefold: firstly, UWB enables ten times as much data throughput as the Wi-Fi, given the extremely short pulses duration and high bandwidth. Moreover, UWB's use of low spectrum frequencies avoids interference with other radio systems.  Lastly, the short pulses duration make for considerably lower energy consumption.

Home entertainment made easy

The entertainment industry has been subjected to overwhelming consumer demand for simpler gadget design, usability and improved user-friendliness. Following the 2010 consumer behaviour study conducted by Nokia Siemens Networks with regard to telecommunications services, the use of internet-based services at home featured the highest percentage. As a result, EUWB's contribution to UWB technology enables wireless high definition transfer of audiovisual content from portable devices (notebooks, laptops or smart phones) on to the living room television. Wireless data transfer is rendered possible through the Media Centre – a hub connecting both television and portable gadgets. Not only does this enhanced technology solve wire inconveniences, but its inherent broadband connection ensures a flawless viewing experience for home entertainment system users.

Sensing car technology

Safety remains a constant issue in the automobile industry, since consumers do decide on a purchase considering a car's security system and functionalities in the event of accident. EUWB tackles both sides of the story:  UWB sensors can detect an increase in temperature as a result of tracked movement in the car, should children or pets be accidentally left behind in the vehicle or locked inside the trunk. The tracking system instantly sets off an alarm. On the other hand, sensors placed on front and back seats can detect seat occupancy as well as changes in passengers' position, leading to seatbelt adjustment.

In-flight wireless comfort

Passengers have long benefited from internet connectivity on board an aircraft. However, EUWB technology tackles the issue of a wireless cabin connection, facing restrictions related to international regulations and simultaneous network use. Most importantly, UWB-RT has so far provided the best solution to frequency interferences, a major problem for wireless cabin equipment. Consequently, a Cabin Management System has been tested in order to provide passengers with on-demand audiovisual content as part of in-flight entertainment. A wireless connection would also enable travellers to browse through their destination details: bookings, events, flight info etc. Security is addressed in the form of wireless light and smoke detectors. 


UWB's short-range applications and orientation towards quiet local frequencies, alongside European regulators' caution towards this new use of radio spectrum has turned EUWB standardisation into a slow process. However, EUWB partners are momentarily pursuing an agreement with both the European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI) and the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT). EUWB partners active in Technical Committees (TC) are working towards this goal, namely the ETSI TC Reconfigurable Radio Systems (RRS). Concrete results feature the location tracking and sensor applications for automobiles and public transportation operating on specific frequency bands (3.1 GHz to 4.8 GHz and 6.0 GHz to 8.5 GHz).
EUWB development builds on previously EU-funded, 6 th and 7 th Framework Programme projects such as PULSERS, PULSERS Phase II and UCELLS. PULSERS lead to applications such as sensor networks for industrial control, building automation and private home applications - fast download of multimedia content into fixed, portable and mobile appliances).
The likes of EUWB emphasize outstanding EU research results in the field of future networks. Nevertheless, achieving regulation standards for developing mobile broadband technologies is a must in order to enable application interoperability across European borders. From the policy perspective, the second pillar on the Digital Agenda for Europe aims at ensuring a common ground in terms of interoperability and standards.
A common set of standards would further industry growth, leading to greater competitiveness and an overall improved quality of life for Europeans. This is precisely what the Digital Agenda for Europe sets out to achieve through its Research and Innovation challenges , in the present context of economic difficulties.


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