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.
“This has been a unique and rewarding project, collaborating with Renesas to bring the first LRP UWB-based social distancing wristwatch to market,” said Scott Houghton, President of Altran’s Semiconductor & Electronics, Industrial & Consumer business. “We’re excited to introduce this platform to other markets; its form factor, power efficiency and accuracy make it an excellent fit in both Covid and non-Covid applications across our vertical industries.”
“After months of global pandemic shutdowns, people will want to feel safe when they return to work, school and social settings in close proximity to others. I’m pleased our collaboration with Altran is about responding to the Covid-19 pandemic with the first LRP UWB social distance wristwatch solution,” said Roger Wendelken, Senior Vice President, Head of