Social Distance Firmware Release Suggestion for Decawave (now Qorvo)

Hello to all the UWB Community.

This is a suggestion for Decawave (now Qorvo), which can benefit both parties Decawave and UWB Developers.

Facts:

1.-As we have recently seen the phenomenon of the pandemic COVID-19 has opened many sales / business opportunities for many companies that offer solutions based on UWB, products focused on increasing and verifying social distancing.

2.-Currently there is the DWM1001 module which is a very powerful Swiss Army knife capable of solving these applications without problems.

3.-a disadvantage is that, to solve this type of applications, it is necessary to write a very complex code that contemplates the coexistence of thousands of devices and can operate correctly with a scheme similar to the one used in PANS 2.0.

4.-Not all the UWB companies are allowed by time to write this code, because the clients are demandings the devices right now to reopen their business and enforcé social distancing.

5.-If Decawave offered a firmware or source code that had the application of multi ranging, that would instantly cause sales of DWM1001 and IC DW1000 modules to skyrocket by thousands, this would benefit both parties.

As a C.T.O. this is my Suggestion for Decawave (now Qorvo):

6.- Currently companies such as LEAPLABS or Nordic Enterprises LTD have a firmware that solves this problem, if Decawave reached a commercial agreement with these companies to offer a FREEMIUM-type licensing in the same way that it was done by me, I assure that the requests for DW1000 and DWM1001 would skyrocket by the thousands.

Thank you for your attention.

Comments are welcome!

Based on scarcity, Qorvo is presently not having trouble selling every DWM module they produce, so it isn’t clear they need to create more demand in the short term.

They do? I’d like to learn more about that and see how they work. In particular, how they handle scalability to large numbers of nodes, and what sort of battery life their systems can achieve.

A small scale short time duration demo is easy. A large scale usable system is another question entirely.

If they have truly solved this problem, then people should go license their code from them and off you go to market. You don’t need Qorvo to do that for you.

My assessment is that there isn’t a one size fits all social distancing algorithm. The problem is so hard that the compromises one product is willing to accept may not be the same compromises another one can accept. Thus, hoping for this grand unified and mostly free code base that all can use is idealistic.

Mike Ciholas, President, Ciholas, Inc
3700 Bell Road, Newburgh, IN 47630 USA
[email protected]
+1 812 962 9408

1.-As we have recently seen the phenomenon of the pandemic COVID-19 has opened many sales / business opportunities for many companies that offer solutions based on UWB, products focused on increasing and verifying social distancing.

Agreed. The current situation indeed seems like a great catalyst for UWB widespread usage. Our company - and I’m sure all other UWB companies - received a lot of requests for Social Distancing products.

3.-a disadvantage is that, to solve this type of applications, it is necessary to write a very complex code that contemplates the coexistence of thousands of devices and can operate correctly with a scheme similar to the one used in PANS 2.0.

Our solution works out of the box on DWM1001 based products. Using the DWM1001 can speed up the time to market for sure. Scarcity of the modules is an issue at the moment though.

Doing this right is indeed quite a challenge. Some challenges to face:

  • Device scaling: As Mike pointed out, this is extremely hard. Doing the ad hoc slot distribution for example is hard. Yet I don’t think it’s impossible without very stringent compromises. We are currently able to scale, with the only compromise that not more than 20 tags can be in the same room at the same time. Arguably, this is enough for social distancing.

  • Power consumption: customers will have to accept a relatively short battery life and/or a big battery. As the system is ad hoc, the radio has to be on a lot to ensure good recording of social distancing breaches, eating a lot of battery. As far as I see, there’s no way around this besides the ‘fake’ solutions like switching off the UWB based on information received via BLE. Like that battery life can be extended to a week or so, but the customer ends up with a much less deterministic battery life as a consequence.

  • Clock synchronisation

  • Achieving a decent accuracy ( ~10cm in 95% of the cases). If you want a higher reliability of the measurements, you will want to range a lot… meaning a decrease of battery life, …

  • Certification

Some trade-offs have to be made, but I think it is possible to make a very appealing product anyway.

Another bigger ‘threat’ I see is that there are many BLE-only SD devices on the market now. They are tiny, cheap and have a long battery life. Appealing to customers. The only thing they lack (and what makes this unusable for Social Distancing) is the accuracy. But I see a lot of false promises about this on the internet. Would be good if this can be debunked once and for all.

5.-If Decawave offered a firmware or source code that had the application of multi ranging, that would instantly cause sales of DWM1001 and IC DW1000 modules to skyrocket by thousands, this would benefit both parties.

We offer a complete Social Distancing library to our customers that supports DWM1001 boards. Unfortunately we cannot offer it for free ;-).

Frederic Mes, CTO, RTLOC
[email protected]

Don’t underestimate the customer’s ability to accept poor results in exchange for less cost.

This is particularly true when heavy weights like Apple and Google are behind BLE RSSI distancing.

Against that backdrop of lower cost, already built into phones, and two of the largest corporations in the world supporting it, the mere fact the results are poor may not matter. If the BLE solution is blessed as acceptable by the powers that be, then it wins since the customer only wants to check the box that they have a “solution” and they really don’t care that much how well it works.

Mike Ciholas, President, Ciholas, Inc
3700 Bell Road, Newburgh, IN 47630 USA
[email protected]
+1 812 962 9408