Ultra wideband (UWB) has received a lot of press recently for personal area networking and connectivity. But is that the whole story? Not at all: there are a number of other uses for the fledgling format, which have nothing to do with the sub 5 to 10 meter space. These include precision location-finding and asset tracking; intrusion detection; collision and obstacle avoidance; and many more. DARPA, for instance, is interested in robust anti-jam sensor networks and hand-held communication systems for combat use and it appears that UWB will fill the bill. Construction vehicles may be fitted with rear-facing UWB radar sensors to warn of nearby obstacles. Commercial, military and governmental uses abound. UWB systems have a number of advantages: their signals are low power, especially in low data rate systems, which makes them difficult to detect, and they are wide bandwidth, which makes them hard to jam. Moreover, as Alan Varghese, senior director of semiconductor research at ABI Research points out, “While the high data rates required of personal networking and the FCC’s interference masks limit UWB’s range in that setting, at low data rates it can have a range measuring in kilometers, not just meters.” In locator networks, for example, UWB’s range is not a limiting issue. It is true that the standards-defining process for UWB for wireless personal area networks is still deadlocked. But, asks Varghese, are standards critical in all applications? “In niche segments such as the government and the military, and in applications such as localization where interoperability across devices and networks is less important than just solving the problem that exists, standardization can take a back seat.”