According to bearded folkdancer Peter Judge over at Techworld, the Bluetooth SIG has got bored waiting for ultrawideband to turn up and has decided to go to Wi-Fi instead for the next update to its standard.
Whether Wi-Fi is a good fit for Bluetooth is a moot point, given the lengths the Blueboys have gone to in the past to explain the many philosophical and practical differences between the standards. Power consumption, interoperability and security were and remain concerns, but in the end you can make anything work with anything if you try hard enough and accept enough compromises. Whether people want what you come up with is another matter, of course.
But the story is an undeniable kick up the physical interface for UWB. From the first time I saw UWB in action at an Intel Developer Forum in 2002, I've been extremely keen on the idea: it's not every day that a brand-new fundamental idea in wireless turns up and does something very useful.
But that was five years ago. Since then, many of the predicted problems have been met and vanquished -- antenna design, regulatory approval, potential interference with existing services - and for at least the last two years I've been seeing UWB manufacturers showing off working chips with a 'real soon now' promise attached.
It's still not here. It's still not anywhere.
The past five years have also seen much of what made UWB special slip into the murk - it was originally an extremely novel system that punched tightly-timed pulses of energy into the aether without any form of carrier. That promised extreme simplicity, low cost and low power, together with all manner of potential for radar-like applications. There were ideas for long-range wide area networking alongside the very short range stuff for home digital media.
Now, the standard has turned into a sort-of-ADSL of the air, with massed ranks of OFDM links burbling away in parallel over distances no longer than five metres or so.
The whole business has the feel of an idea that got hijacked, set on a different course and then left to drift. Whether that's because the figures just didn't add up in the end, because various parties had to make strategic decisions about which disruptive technology to back or just because people stopped bothering, I don't know. But it's a sad state for a new idea.
(Oh, and while we're on the subject: don't forget that it's now November, the month that xG promised to launch its new yet mysterious xMax standard into commercial deployment as a VoIP service. No actual date or details yet, alas, but can't be long now. Can it?).