Ultra-Wideband indoor location technology is finally ready for industrial and IoT markets
Ultra-wideband (UWB) indoor location technology is on the cusp of substantial market growth. ABI Research forecasts that there is huge opportunity for the high-accuracy, low-cost ultra-wideband radio technology in industrial and IoT markets, with total RTLS/asset tracking revenues to reach $15 billion by 2021.
“High-precision UWB technologies are nothing new, with companies like Time Domain, Ubisense and Zebra Technologies being long-established vendors in the RTLS/asset tracking market, says Patrick Connolly, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “Though no one ever doubted UWB’s accuracy or ability to perform in challenging RF environments, the cost/accuracy trade-off previously limited this technology to very niche applications. But big change is now happening as startups invent ways to cost effectively implement the technology without compromising on performance.”
In its aggressive analysis, ABI Research uncovers a number of companies that it predicts will be very disruptive in this space. Decawave remains the biggest influencer, now shipping UWB ICs for less than $15 at scale. This opened the floodgates for a host of startups working with the technology for the first time to contend in the market.
Partners Decawave and Quantitec are making significant progress with the likes of Bosch; while Nanotron is a “20-year-old startup” that offers a well-thought-out embedded location platform. UWINLOC is another new startup that created a semi-passive UWB solution that can ultimately compete on price with passive RFID, while also providing similar benefits to an active technology through energy harvesting.
Not only will UWB disrupt the existing market, it will also open up new opportunities around compliance, traceability, fleet management, pallet tracking, staff management, fulfillment, and inventory management. The major competitive threat stems from Bluetooth; while it comes with a range of cost/accuracy trade-offs, its major advantage is its easy integration with smartphones and industrial wearables. Companies like Bluvision, Kontakt.io, MIST and Quuppa lead the way in this space.
“It is still very early,” concludes Connolly. “But the ability to deliver consistently on the impressive pricing, accuracy, and performance parameters that vendors are touting today will be what really differentiates Bluetooth and UWB technologies from one another.”