Wireless USB a step closer

Wireless USB a step closer

Summary: Wireless USB devices are one step closer to being reality as Staccato Communications submits six potential products to the FCC for certification.


Wireless USB logoWireless USB devices are one step closer to being reality as Staccato Communications submits six potential products to the FCC for certification.

Wireless USB will change how we connect digital cameras, MP3 players, printers and flash drive to our PCs

The six Staccato devices are:

  • SC3221R USB External Host Wire Adapter (HWA) Dongle
    A small Host Wire Adapter dongle that's similar in size to a USB flash drive, which plugs into any USB 2.0 port and allows it to make use of Wireless USB.
  • SC3222R HWA Mini Card
    For notebooks supporting internal PCI Express Mini Card slots as a build-to-order or configure-to-order option. 
  • SC3223R USB Embedded Device Wire Adapter (DWA) Daughtercard
    This is designed to be integrated in peripherals already supporting a wired USB 2.0 interface.  By connecting a Device Wire Adapter to an existing USB device interface, any application can instantly enabled device functionality based on Certified Wireless USB.
  • SC3224R Combo Bluetooth Mini Card
    This card combines both Bluetooth and Certified Wireless USB technology onto a single PCI Express Mini Card form factor.
  • SC3225R HWA Half Mini Card
    A card which is half the size of a standard PCI Express Mini Card, allowing for greater flexibility.
  • SC3226R SDIO Card
    This provides Certified Wireless USB support in an SDIO Card form factor for embedded applications.

NEC has also announced the uPD720180 DWA chip.  This will allow wired USB peripherals to make use of Wireless USB.  The chip will allow four wired USB devices to use the Wireless USB connection.

I think that the technology will be very useful and convenient - as long as the security is good Wireless USB devices are still a way off though.  This is because manufacturers will have to go through a long list of testing and detailed checklists before going to the certification process, which, initially will be overseen by Intel's Wireless USB Platform Integration Lab.

I'm quite eager to see Wireless USB devices, but I'm a little skeptical as to the benefits when it comes to printers and hubs because Wireless USB will replace one wire, but power cables will remain, so it doesn't offer a truly wire-free world.  But it is taking us one step closer.  For devices such as MP3 players and digital cameras, I think that the technology will be very useful and convenient - as long as the security is good.

What do you see as being the pros and cons of Wireless USB?

Topic: Wi-Fi

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  • The biggest problem is that devices can not be powered by wireless USB, so

    now you need a power cable. Of course cameras or MP3 players that have a battery will work fine. This will also be very handy for devices that need thier own power anyway. Also, the issue of associating a device to one and only one computer at a time is not trivial and will confuse consumers.
    • You're right

      It's good, but it's far from offering us a wire-free desk.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Even without the power issues

        it'll be a long time before we can untether the monitor. Especailly now that everyday 3D business apps are coming our way soon.
        Michael Kelly
    • A powered wireless hub...

      ...which looks like was already in the works, according to the article.
      This way, devices that aren't self-powered can be plugged in and won't run in USB "passive" mode.

      But of course, this approach likely only applies for existing USB devices that are wired and need USB power, not for new WUSB devices coming in the future.

      A WUSB dongle that connects directly into the [i]devices[/i] to communicate to the WUSB-enabled PC would be nice in some cases.

      And I'd agree that if a WUSB device can only be dedicated to one PC at a time, then things like a WUSB-enabled Printer would make little sense in your standard household.
      • Don't forget

        Battery technology has come a long way, so we can have a large number of rechargable devices, from keyboards and mice (bah) to wireless 16GB flash drives (that have a usb plug or replacable aa/aaa battery and a power switch).
  • WUSB provides useful benefit

    The ability to unclutter the back of the PC with wires is good.

    Placing USB devices AWAY from the desktop/laptop is the largest benefit, as far as I'm concerned and that is terrific. I don't need/want my USB printer, iPOD charge/sync cable, USB harddrive, etc all sitting next to my PC. I want to place it on the other side of the room. ALL that easility justifies WUSB hub
    • Isn't that what Bluetooth was all about ?????(NT)

      • Bluetooth was more of a stop-gap

        Bluetooth has a few strengths but a lot of drawbacks that WUSB will hopefully remove from existence.
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Distance will be good

      You're right - being able to have devices further away from the PC will be nice benefir to WUSB.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Responses

    I work for Staccato Communications. We are one of the companies making Wireless USB products.

    Certainly Wireless USB is great for getting rid of cables on the desktop. It also is useful for PANs. I?d rather have a camera with wireless built in that can download pictures to my UMPC or portable media player than to have to carry cables around.

    You can walk around taking pictures and just have them added to your slideshow automagically. Particularly with a battery constrained device like UMPC, you don?t want it to be a power source for a lot of peripherals. It is better that peripherals carry their own batteries as they know how to manage power better. The camera can be cheaper as you don?t need a lot of memory for storage and can get away with a smaller display as you will not be using the camera for presenting slide shows.

    We will solve the issue of connecting wirelessly to displays, but not this year or next.

    To some extent Certified Wireless USB is over hyped. We will have product out this calendar year, but it will be in thousands of units not millions. Last year everyone was showing systems made out of FPGAs that cost tens of thousands of dollars in hardware alone. Now everybody is showing first generation product in reasonable size and power format.

    Still I?d be cautions. Early product will work fine for remoting your printer, but it will be a while before drivers are solid and prices are down. USB takes a lot of testing, and it isn?t clear that every device will work in a wireless hub. For example we won?t be supporting isochronous for a while.

    I may be over cautious. I was working on Bluetooth in the early days and it was vastly overhyped. The crash of Bluetooth also coincided with the internet bubble burst and I was one of many unemployed in 2002-2003.

    In general with new digital technology, it underperforms the first few years and then wildly exceeds all expectations over the long term. This was true with USB, WiFi and Bluetooth not to mention the original IBM PC which many discounted.

    Be careful in what you say as it may look pretty silly in a few years. The people hyping Bluetooth in the early days look conservative in their predictions seven years later.
  • Why are camera manufacturers not adding wireless?

    Why aren't the camera manufacturers adding wirless to their equipment? What about other CE manufacturers? Only the cell phone manufacturers seem to be at the forefront.