Samsung's UWB tech will let you use a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as a digital key

In the near term, it'll power Google's new Airdrop-like "Nearby Share" service.


The flagship Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s first phone with ultra wideband (UWB) technology first seen on Apple’s iPhone 11. In the short term, that technology will power Google’s new Nearby Share, letting you see others around you with Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or future Samsung UWB devices. Down the road, however, the UWB tech could power AR tech or even let you use your phone as a “digital key” that senses when you approach the door, according to Samsung.

UWB technology uses very high frequency (up to 8,250 MHz) short range wireless signals. At the same time, it runs on low-power tech so it won’t drain your phone or interfere with other wireless signals.

To start with, you’ll be able to use Samsung’s UWB tech to share files with others who also have a UWB-capable handset. “By simply pointing Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to other UWB equipped Galaxy devices, Nearby Share will automatically list the people you’re facing on to the top of your sharing panel,” Samsung said. From there, you’d be able to send photos, videos and other files over Bluetooth, WebRTC or peer-to-peer WiFi, whichever works best under the circumstances.

What’s more intriguing is what it’s capable of. “Future UWB functionality will also help you find things more accurately with AR technology and unlock your home as a digital key,” according to Samsung. During its Unpacked 2020 presentation, Samsung specifically cited Assa Abloy — the company that manufactures Yale and August Home smart locks.

As detailed by the FiRa Consortium that manages UWB, it could also be used for indoor location tracking inside a mall, for instance. For now, it has limited use with Nearby Share, but it sounds like companies are just scratching the surface of UWB’s potential.