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Bluetooth Vs UWB | Difference between Bluetooth and UWB

This page compares Bluetooth Vs UWB and mentions difference between Bluetooth and UWB with respect to various applications and comparison parameters.

Introduction: Both bluetooth and UWB are short range wireless technologies. They have been developed to get rid of wired connectivity and to achieve freedom of mobility. They are used in various applications such as audio transfer, data & multimedia communication, positioning for tracking purpose, games, Internet of things (IoT) and more. Both the networks are referred as WPANs (Wireless Personal Area Networks).

Bluetooth technology

The bluetooth wireless technology has been developed and managed by bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group). The specifications have been published in IEEE 802.15.1 document. Bluetooth uses 2.4 GHz band. Upto 8 devices can communicate in adhoc mode and form small network called piconet. Tens of such piconets coexist in the same range of bluetooth radio. In a piconet, one device acts as a master where as other devices act as active slave devices. Two or more piconets is referred as a scatternet as shown in the figure-1. Any device equipped with bluetooth radio can make instant wireless connection with another bluetooth device within its coverage range.

Bluetooth Scatternet

In order to support different ranges and data rates various bluetooth specifications have been developed by IEEE. Following are the features of different versions of bluetooth from version 1.0 to version 5.3 at the time of this post. Initial version of bluetooth was released in the year 1998. BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) version have been published in 2006 to address power consumption deficiencies of previos versions of bluetooth.

Bluetooth versions Features
Bluetooth V1.2 Data rate : 720 Kbps
Bluetooth V2.0 Enhanced data rate, 2.1 Mbps
Bluetooth V2.1 Secure simple pairing, data rate of 2.0 Mbps
Bluetooth V3.0 High speed with 802.11 wifi radio, data rate of 24 Mbps
Bluetooth V4.0 Low energy protocol, data rate : 24 Mbps
Bluetooth V4.1 Coexist with LTE, Indirect IoT device connection
Bluetooth V4.2 Introduces features as per IoT requirements, support for IPv6 protocol etc.
Bluetooth V5.0 Range : Greater than 400 meters, Data rate : 2 Mbps
Bluetooth V5.1 Range : 400 meters, Data rate : 2 Mbps, Power consumption : 0.01 to 0.5 W
Bluetooth V5.2 Range : 400 meters, Data rate : 2 Mbps, Power consumption : 1 Watt
Bluetooth V5.3 Announced July 2021, Offers low consumption, less interference, improved security, better quality etc.

Following are the benefits or advantages of bluetooth.
➨It offers wireless adhoc connectivity between devices and hence provides hands free operation.
➨BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) version offers low power consumption in object tracking applications compare to UWB.
➨It is available in almost all the gadgets e.g. smartphones, watches, tablets, laptops, headphones, Earbuds etc.
➨It is easy and simple to use by anyone and does not require any technical knowledge.
➨It offers less interference compare to other wireless technologies.

UWB technology

UWB (Ultra Wide Band) technology uses spectrum larger than 500 MHz. Hence it has many benefits over narrowband technologies. In the year 2002, FCC has approved use of unlicensed spectrum within 3.1 to 10.6 GHz for UWB applications. It uses short duration EM (Electro-Magnetic) pulses for high speed data transfer over wide bandwidth (BW). UWB is emerging standard after bluetooth/BLE for low power and short range wireless communication. UWB EIRP versus frequency spectrum is shown in the figure-2.

UWB EIRP versus Frequency

Following are the benefits or advantages of UWB.
➨It offers very high data rates.
➨It offers low power consumption for non-positioning applications compare to Bluetooth.
➨It offers better noise immunity and can withstand fading/jamming.
➨It can easily penetrate variety of materials.
➨It coexists with other wireless technologies such as bluetooth and wifi.
➨It uses TOF (Time of Flight) concept and hence measures location of UWB tagged objects with accuracy in centimeter resolution under multipath environments.

Difference between Bluetooth and UWB

Let us compare UWB vs bluetooth with respect to various applications in which these technologies are being used. The typical applications are positioning, high speed and multimedia communication, gaming, audio, IoT (Internet of Things) etc. Following table mentions difference between Bluetooth and UWB with respect to various parameters.

Features Bluetooth UWB
Standard IEEE 802.15.1 IEEE 802.15.3a, 802.15.4z
Frequency 2.400 to 2.480 GHz 3.1 to 10.6 GHz
Range/Coverage 15 meters (Typical), 100 meters (Max.) 70 meters (Typical), 250 meters (Max.)
Bandwidth 1 MHz 500 MHz to 7.5 GHz
Modulation GFSK BPSK, QPSK
Number of RF channels 79 16 (o to 15)
Data Protection 16 bit CRC 32 bit CRC
Latency High, in milliseconds range ( Example : 20-30 ms response to click of a mouse in gaming app ) Low, in sub milliseconds range ( Example : 0.1-0.2 ms wireless gaming peripherals )
Power consumption (in non positioning apps) Higher Lower, 10 times less compare to bluetooth for non positioning apps
Positioning or tracking accuracy Medium, Several meters High, 10 cm
Data throughput Less (Upto 2 Mbps) More (Upto 27 Mbps), 10 times more than bluetooth
Energy efficiency High (Example : Sensor data application) Low, 40 times better than bluetooth
Hardware expenses Low High

Summary: At this moment, bluetooth is widely used everywhere for commercial and industrial applications and products since two decades. UWB is emerging technology due to its lower latency and minimal power consumption. It will take sometime for UWB to be available like bluetooth in consumer devices and applications.

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