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WiMedia Alliance calls it a day

The ultrawideband group will shut down and transfer its specifications to industry groups representing spin-off technologies such as Bluetooth 3.0 and Wireless USB
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The WiMedia Alliance, an industry group set up to develop and promote ultrawideband technology, has announced it will shut its doors.

The organisation will pass on its technological specifications to other industry groups, including the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the Wireless USB Promoter Group and the USB Implementers' Forum. Many members of these groups cross over to the WiMedia Alliance, as both Wireless USB (WUSB) and the upcoming Bluetooth 3.0 use ultrawideband (UWB) technology.

"We have reached a point in specification development and product availability where it is more efficient for the related industry groups to oversee future specification development in-house," said Stephen Wood, president of WiMedia Alliance, in a statement on Monday. "Recent announcements of cost-effective second- and third-generation products, the availability of high-band products for worldwide use, and UWB chipsets and consumer-end products from industry giant Samsung are indicative of the momentum we have gained."

Ultrawideband, as the name suggests, uses a wide range of frequencies to allow high-bandwidth, high-speed, low-power data transfer over short distances. It has been described by its supporters as ideal for so-called wireless personal area networks (WPANs), which are used to let PCs, appliances and peripherals talk to one another.

Pointing out that UWB technology was already embedded in WUSB, and that working UWB prototypes running the Bluetooth protocol had been demonstrated, Wood said it now made sense to "streamline the [UWB] process by passing off future specification development and certification".

In the statement, Bluetooth SIG executive director Michael Foley also said that the "natural transition" would "streamline processes" and make it easier to bring wireless products to market. Jeff Ravencraft, the president and chairman of the USB Implementers' Forum, added that the technology transfer would provide his organisation's members with a "one-stop process for certification and continued productisation of Wireless USB".

The announcement of the WiMedia Alliance's dissolution follows the closure last year of several UWB companies, including WiQuest and Intel's in-house Ultrawideband Networking Operation. In November, Wood told ZDNet UK that the UWB industry was experiencing "accelerated attrition" due to the negative economic climate, but insisted that the market for UWB was not intrinsically weak.

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