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Ultrawideband gets on the television

The standards war may be deadlocked, but UWB products are coming soon - even though industry group chairman Bob Heile is departing

Some of the first Ultrawideband (UWB) enabled consumer electronic devices were demonstrated on Tuesday at the Freescale Technology forum in Orlando, Florida.

A 37-inch high definition television from Chinese company Haier was shown using an integrated UWB link to a digital media server. The products will ship in the Chinese market in the last quarter of 2005 and in the US in 2006. No European dates have been set.

"This first UWB-enabled consumer product marks the beginning of great wireless experiences for consumers," said Franz Fink, senior vice-president and general manager for Freescale's Wireless and Mobile Systems Group, in a statement. "UWB is now a proven technology designed to enhance user experiences by providing a wireless connection with the speed and quality they demand."

Freescale's UWB standard promises speeds of over 110Mbps while consuming much less power than wireless networking standards such as 802.11n, and was approved last year by the US FCC. It is supported by a consortium of some 40 companies and is in direct competition with the Intel, Texas Instruments, Nokia and Philips-led WiMedia standard, which has around 170 companies behind it.

The two groups have been locked in conflict for three years in the IEEE 802.15.3a task group charged with creating a single industry standard: chairman Bob Heile resigned from the group on Monday saying he could no longer do the dual jobs of heading the IEEE's general network standardisation efforts and that of UWB in particular.

When the technology is mature, UWB is expected to work at up to 1Gbps over short ranges while requiring very little power, making it ideal for portable media devices, high resolution video and local interconnections between computers and storage systems.