Ultra Wideband (UWB) is a wireless communication protocol. It uses radio waves in a similar way to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. What makes UWB different to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is the very wide band of several GHz that it operates in.
UWB can be described as a continuously scanning radar that can precisely lock onto an object, discover its location and communicate with it. A UWB transmitter will send billions of pulses over the wide frequency band. A corresponding receiver will then translate the pulses into location data. UWB uses extremely low power but the high bandwidth is ideal for transferring lots of data from a host device to other devices up to 30 feet away.
UWB can be used for many applications. In the early 2000’s it was used by the military in radars, covert communications and briefly as a form of medical imaging, for example to develop a remote heart monitoring system. Its primary use today is location discovery, because it boasts centimetre accuracy of geospatial data.
At Spatial Quotient, it was a long journey before we finally that UWB would be the most suitable technology to measure staff and patient movement.
We started our journey by using RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) and although this worked for us and was a good starting point, it didn’t give us the level of detail that we required. After extensive research, demonstrations and testing, we decided to migrate to UWB. We did this because:
We have developed a self-sufficient system that includes a sim card router to enable us to support hospital clinics without causing disruption. We are able to set up the system in less than a day and dismantle it within 2 hours.
Usually, we complete a 5-day data capture which will generate millions of data points from the staff and patient movements. Our in house Data Scientists then analyse this data to draw out useful insights. We then hold a workshop with the hospital staff to share the results and determine an action plan. Finally, we do a return visit to assess the improvements achieved by delivering the action plan.
We are now working on how we can integrate this system into a permanent setup in a hospital clinic. This means we will be able to offer live feeds to the management team, so they are able to see how the clinic is performing at any time and make instant decisions on how to improve the efficiency.
For more details on UWB technology, we’d recommend visiting the website of the FiRa Consortium.