Ultra Wideband standards issues resolved: devices expected by 2008

 After years of fits and starts, most of the leading consumer electronics manufacturers have announced they will use a faster version of Bluetooth wireless technology to move video between devices in the homeThe technology will also govern how televisions, PCs and video recorders will be connected. Up until now, the feuding Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) and the WiMedia Alliance were feuding about specs.

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After years of fits and starts, most of the leading consumer electronics manufacturers have announced they will use a faster version of Bluetooth wireless technology to move video between devices in the home

The technology will also govern how televisions, PCs and video recorders will be connected. 

Up until now, the feuding Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) and the WiMedia Alliance were feuding about specs.

Winner: the WiMedia Alliance multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (MB-OFDM) version of ultra wideband (UWB).

The decision in favor of the WiMedia Alliance solution is expected to determine how hundreds of millions of televisions, video recorders and personal computers will be connected without wires by the turn of the decade.

The goal, representatives of both associations said yesterday, would be to cooperate to have Bluetooth-enabled devices to the market by 2008 that can send and receive multimedia at speeds that are more than 100 times faster than current Bluetooth.

The new version of Bluetooth will use  Ultra Wideband (UWB) radio technology. UWB uses a high frequency radio band, which limits the possible distance between devices to around 35 feet. But in a home environment that's just fine. 

"We definitely looking for same type of range ... one room range," Michael Foley, executive director, Bluetooth SIG, said in a conference call.

And with connections of 100 megabits per second possible via UWB, that's, well, 100 times faster as I just noted.

It's definitely a "need for speed" that has cinched this deal. Speeds of at least 10 megabits per second are mandatory to exchange high quality video and television between devices.

Cooperation has been elusive, though. Until now, the global electronics industry has been struggling to choose a single wireless connection that is fast enough to connect a new generation of digital devices.

But time is a-wastin', and it seems that the fact that the two sides have agreed means they realize this.

As to spectrum, Bluetooth SIG and WiMedia Alliance said the Bluetooth solution would use unlicensed radio spectrum above 6 GHz.

And what of the development work still to be done? Foley noted that power consumption and security features are at the top of the R&D docket, as well as backward compatibility with the current version of Bluetooth. 

Sounds like all parties are committed to smooth sailing, but I have been around technology a bit too long to claim there won't be problems along the way. 

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