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Tracking with Ultra Wide Band (UWB)

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    Tracking with Ultra Wide Band (UWB)

    UWB is a technology that has the ability to provide precise distance between two UWB clients and when multiple stationary clients are implemented then the location of a mobile client can be determined via triangulation. This is the technology used by Apple and Samsung for their AirTag / SmartTag to support specific identification of location of items holding their tags.
    Decawave (now Quovo) is the company that provides the UWB microchips. Decawave provides a development kit. Makerfab (China) ESP32 UWB(Ultra Wideband) | Makerfabs provides an ESP32 with the UWB chip integrated. They have recently introduced the next generation Decawave DW3000 product ESP32 UWB DW3000(Ultra Wideband) | Makerfabs. This is advertised to be able to communicate with the Apple AirTag. The first generation product DW1000 is not compatible with Apple or Samsung products but is able to be used to setup a network of stationary and mobile devices where the mobile device position can be tacked.

    My testing was done with a pair of MakerFab modules. One as Anchor and one as Tag. The reporting is via MQTT per the Topic setup in the Tasmota MQTT configuration. It reports the Tag ID as part of the Topic. The payload will be the distance from the reporting Anchor node in feet. E.g., Topic UWB/1234 Payload 5.5 from the Anchor about how far Tag 1234 is away from the reporting Anchor. If Tag 1234 no longer reports to the Anchor for a five second period, then the Anchor will report a distance of -1. If during the five second an acknowledge with updated distance is received, then the prior lack of report will be ignored.

    For testing the Tag was power by a battery pack and moved to various locations. MQTT reports of new distance were responsive and reasonably accurate. For optimum accuracy there is a calibration procedure. This was beyond the scope of my evaluation.

    The datasheet for DW1000 specifies distances typically in the 100-to-200-meter range. My experience with the MakerFab ESP32 board implementation is a range of no more than 10 meters indoors with line of sight. I did not observe much difference between low power and high accuracy configuration parameters.

    My original intent was for the ESP32 to be an Anchor and Apple AirTag to be the Tag. If an ESP32 board needs to be mobile, then I do not see any practical use for the DW1000 in a HA-related tracking application. While the ESP32/DW3000 is now available from MakeFab, I do not plan on repeating the evaluation with the newer product and an AirTag. The ESP32-DW3000 product was just released. It is not clear how much of the DS1000 library can be used with the DW3000. The MakerFab documentation seems to use the DW1000 library, but it could just be a copy/paste error in the documentation.

    The bottom line for me is that I do not see a practical HA use for the DW1000 chipset. The DW3000 with Apple AirTag could have a benefit for situations where the AirTag is tethered to the person/animal/item being tracked. The precision of measurement is where the UWB technology shines.

    A more complete description of the project and links to source and object files can be found in Section 20.26 of mcsMQTT user manual at http://mcsSprinklers.com/mcsMQTT.pdf.


    #2
    Support for AirTags would be pretty sweet.
    HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.435 (Windows Server 8.1 on ESXi box)

    Plug-Ins Enabled:
    Z-Wave:,RaspberryIO:,AirplaySpeak:,Ecobee:,
    weatherXML:,JowiHue:,APCUPSD:,PHLocation:,Chromecast:,EasyTr igger:

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      #3
      Thanks Michael. I love seeing your projects, and especially your reporting on less positive results so others can learn from them.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for testing and reporting!

        Comment


          #5
          So Apple Airtags aren't compatible with homeseer yet?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by pcgirl65 View Post
            So Apple Airtags aren't compatible with homeseer yet?
            Apple Airtags aren't compatible with anything non-Apple as far as I am aware.
            HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.435 (Windows Server 8.1 on ESXi box)

            Plug-Ins Enabled:
            Z-Wave:,RaspberryIO:,AirplaySpeak:,Ecobee:,
            weatherXML:,JowiHue:,APCUPSD:,PHLocation:,Chromecast:,EasyTr igger:

            Comment


              #7
              ESP32-DW3000 looks to be easiest way to get generic awareness of Apple tags across all platforms. The ESP32 will be sending updates via MQTT protocol which is universal to all HA clients. Others may want to go down this road, but my current leaning is to not invest the time to make the integration available for HS. I had done BLE with HS3 for this purpose. The user community at that time did not have interest in flashing an ESP32 with the firmware to accomplish the desire capability. I suspect it will be the same now with UWB. It may be appropriate for the Home Assistant cadre, but it is too DIY for the general population of HS users. For me UWB was a technology curiosity with no personal need.

              I have seen YouTube video on leveraging the Apple App to send notifications when some Apple Tag event occurred. I do not have an Apple environment so did not look any deeper into it.

              Comment


                #8
                Hi Michael,

                Understandable you don't invest in UWB furthermore. But it is possible to track an Apple Airtag with Espresense and mscMQTT. Not as accurate as with UWB, just bluetooth. Only issue is the Airtag connects just once in 5-10 minutes. So sometimes the Airtag is in AWAY state. If I could change the dwell time per device, it would be possible to find object or persons by Airtag. Is dwell time per device something on your backlog?

                Regards, Luuc.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Coincidently, I saw the DW3000 has a library now so I will give UWB a try again.

                  i do not know if AirTag also does BLE. My guess is no.

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                    #10
                    Yes, Apple Airtag has BLE. I have one working yet. But it turns only on once in five minutes or so.

                    Details are here: https://adamcatley.com/AirTag.html

                    Comment


                      #11
                      If it is sending a BLE advertisement then Espresense should be reporting it. It may also have the same problems with MAC randomization and not be able to fingerprinted. It is something you will need to play with.

                      I have the DW3000 hardware so I will be looking into using it for trilateration as I did with BLE in HS3. Merging UWB, BLE and mW Radar into a composite presence entity would be something interesting.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks for reply and information. I play around with the AirTag. There's a difference in BLE advertising if the Airtag is connected to the owners iPhone or not.

                        I'm interested in your results with the DW3000 and UWB. Would be nice to locate more precise with just three DW3000-antenna. For smartphones/tablets (my kids and wife are always searching for them) and some DIY-items like jigsaw and drills. And of course occupation of rooms / house for home automation.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I have had success with the DW3000 ESP32 modules with good range tracking using only these modules. This is a positive step from the DW1000 that I found lacking.

                          I then reached out to MakerFab where I purchased the modules asking about technical details of interfacing with Apple AirTag U1 chip. They responded by updating their sales page to put in disclaimer about the AirTag support.

                          Click image for larger version

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                            #14
                            Hi Michael,

                            Nice to read you made some progress with UWB. Not nice Makerfab has no files/demos for the AirTag U1 chip. But is it a huge problem?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I contacted Quovo and they did respond on Friday asking what region I was in. We will see next week for their follow on response. Without the data on how to configure the DW3010 to play in the same sandbox as U1/AirTag then nothing can be done at this time.

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