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UWB stands for Ultra Wide Band and is used as a short-range wireless communication protocol to track the location of objects within less than half an inch distance. The technology measures how long it takes short radio pulses to travel between one device and another. UWB was originally designed as a means to transfer data, but its ability to track very precise positioning has made it quite useful for modern devices.
One of the most widespread uses of UWB is Apple AirTags, and the technology is gaining steam. Another exciting use of UWB is unlocking cars and smart homes. Automakers, such as BMW, Audi, Ford, and Hyundai already claim that UWB-equipped devices will one day serve as digital keys for unlocking cars. Other use cases include things like keyless entry for homes, manufacturing and logistics, sports, asset tracking, and more.
Both iOS and Android devices are capable of using UWB. However, the list of phones that work with UWB is surprisingly short and consists of the following phones:
If you have one of the above phones, you can use UWB to unlock your car and do other nifty things. Of course, not every car works with UWB. For instance, my Mini Cooper is too old and isn't supported. My wife's car, on the other hand, does work.
The good news is that UWB is catching on and you should expect more cars and more devices to support the technology. And because UWB is so accurate at pinpointing locations, you can be sure it will find even more use cases in the near future.
For example, with UWB enabled, cars will (eventually) be able to recognize your device as you get close enough to your phone and automatically unlock it for you. I would imagine that feature will put a damper on a lot of thriller movies and TV series where the bad guy abducts or assaults someone struggling to get their car unlocked.
Note: Even if your phone is listed above, UWB might not be fully functional yet. For example, the Samsung S21 is listed, and UWB is found in Android settings. However, when you search for UWB in the Settings app, it will appear but will take you to the Connections page, where there is no UWB listed. Even though the S21 is listed as supported, Samsung has only rolled it out to the S21+ and S21 Ultra. So, if you don't find the UWB option available in a phone that is listed as supported, hopefully it'll eventually arrive in an update.
The range of UWB looks something like this:
Range: 30-600 feet (10-200 meters)
Accuracy: 0.1−0.5 m (0.33−1.64 feet)
Not only does UWB have a good range on it, it's very accurate.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you probably have to install an app for your car or set this feature up through your auto's system. The process for this will vary from car to car, so make sure to check the manufacturer's instructions on linking your phone and car together.