Concept: Shanghai’s technological startup MKSemi has developed an integrated low power ultra-wideband (UWB) system-on-chip (SoC) MK8000 for high-precision location sensing to be integrated into secure ranging and IoT applications. The startup claims that the new product empowers IoT devices with small batteries and sizes for high-precision sensing. It enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) to rapidly design, integrate, and deploy complete location and direction-finding solutions.

Nature of Disruption: The new chip integrates a processor, radio, and peripherals, allowing customers to implement UWB ranging products with only a handful of external components, ensuring a small footprint and low power consumption. The startup claims that the new chip has an ultra-low power consumption that is two times better than other chips available in the market. It supports the widest UWB band 1 and 2 (3.1 GHz to approximately 9 GHz) that enables global UWB operation with backward compatibility capability. The new chip is based on a 62.4 MHz Arm Cortex-M0 core and features s a unique intelligent signal processor, that claims to improve computation efficiency by ten times. It consumes 43 mA at 3 V/RX and achieves data rates up to 54 Mbps. MKSemi claims that MK8000 is the first product to include integrated 4 RX with intrinsic 3-D location capability. The chip has a high level of integration that helps to lower bill of materials (BOM) cost and also helps speed up deployment.

Outlook: Despite UWB being in the early phase of its development, the application potential of the technology is huge. It is rapidly becoming a major short-range wireless technology and UWB-enabled devices are expected to increase multifold during this decade. MKSemi claims that its new UWB-enabled MK8000 has a variety of unique applications including ticket validation, asset tracking, tap-free mobile payments, and residential and automotive access control. In January 2022, the startup raised $12.8M in a Series Pre-A+ funding led by Lightspeed China Partners with participation from Qiming Venture and Ivy Capital. It has partnered with Infineon Technologies and ThinkSeed Systems to develop new UWB-enabled devices.

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