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Home > Press > Chip with IR-UWB technology enables low-power, high-quality wireless audio streaming

UWB: test board with IR-UWB chip developed by imec and Holst Centre
UWB: test board with IR-UWB chip developed by imec and Holst Centre

Abstract:
mec and Holst Centre have reached a breakthrough in low-power wireless streaming of high-quality music, for example between a smartphone and a hearing aid, or between the two earpieces of a headset. The new solution is a fully chip-integrated ultralow-power IR-UWB (impulse-radio ultra-wideband) solution for use in the worldwide available 6-10GHz band. The IR-UWB link streams high-quality music over a distance of up to 20m. It uses up to 5 times less energy than a Bluetooth connection. In addition, the link is more resilient against fades and interference from other RF systems.

Chip with IR-UWB technology enables low-power, high-quality wireless audio streaming

Leuven, Belgium | Posted on March 16th, 2012


The new radio can be used for binaural audio streaming between 2 earpieces of a headset or a hearing aid. This is a technical breakthrough because the propagation channel for RF communication from one ear to the other is known as being extremely challenging. In a wider context, the IR-UWB link today covers a distance of 20m for an indoor channel. This distance enables the wireless streaming of high quality audio between a headset and for instance a streaming device anywhere in the living room.

IR-UWB communication is especially suited for short-range communication and positioning sensors. The large bandwidth improves the resilience against fades, resulting in a superior communication reliability. This is especially so compared to narrowband solutions. Also, spreading information over a wide bandwidth decreases the power spectral density, thus reducing the interference with other systems and lowering the probability of interception. IR-UWB is also suitable for positioning sensors; the transmission of very short pulses, with only nanosecond duration, allows for centimeter-range positioning accuracy.

Imec and Holst Centre's solution consists of a transmitter, receiver front-end, and receiver digital baseband. The transmitter delivers 13dBm peak power, with an average power consumption of 3.3mW. The receiver front-end shows -88dBm sensitivity at 1Mbps. A digital synchronization algorithm enables real-time duty cycling, resulting in a mean power consumption of 3mW. A DCO with 100ppm frequency accuracy and a baseband frequency tracking algorithm ensure the coherent reception. A 75dB link budget with a data rate of 1Mbps is achieved.

Companies can have access to this technology by joining imec and Holst Centre's R&D program on ultralow-power wireless systems.

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Contacts:
Barbara Kalkis
Maestro Marketing & PR

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