Wireless USBMonday, May 28, 2007
For the past year, I have been a fan of a new personal networking technology that is just beginning to hit the market: Wireless USB. My first exposure to Wireless USB was at CES in January 2005. I met with a company called Alereon that was in the process of developing chipsets using Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technology.
At that meeting, the Alereon group showed me the capabilities of their UWB chipset and talked about working with the USB organization (USB.org). Their premise at the time was that in order to have UWB technology accepted they would have to find an existing wired standard that UWB technology could extend into the wireless world.
At our Wireless Dinner this year, we awarded Alereon our Choice Award for the Most Innovative New Design Concept for its AL4000 MAC/BBP certified Wireless USB chipset. The reason I was so taken with Wireless USB is because it is fast, affordable and works exactly like the USB devices we have been using for years for our computers, cameras and even wireless phones.
When you plug in a wired USB device, the desktop or notebook knows that a new USB device has been attached and, in most cases, installs the necessary drivers and puts the device into operation in a matter of seconds. Using wireless adds only one step to this process, and that is a step that requires the customer to accept the USB connection and establish a secure communications path between the two devices.
Data rates of 480 Mbps can be achieved when two devices are within 10 feet of each other or up to 110 Mbps when within 30 feet. The next version of the technology promises speeds of up to 1 Gbps. In addition, it can support Bluetooth, IEEE 1394 and WiNET transfers. It is quick to set up, easy to install and setting up the connections between devices is much simpler than what we have to go through today with Bluetooth.
Wireless USB uses far less power than Wi-Fi, making it an ideal fit for wireless phones and other devices. The first products, naturally, will be add-on USB devices such as USB hubs for computers, but it won’t be long before Wireless USB is built into handsets.
I have written in some of my Commentaries (sign up for free on this site) that I believe the wireless industry can take command of the navigation industry. Wireless USB means cars could be equipped with screens and perhaps a GPS but all of the maps and turn-by-turn navigation could be handled in the phone and it would be fast and easy. I could get into my rental car and use my own phone to find my way to a client, and back at home I could use the same device to control many of the comfort settings in my car.
I have been including information about Wireless USB in my speeches for at least the past year. So far, those who are most interested in Wireless USB appear to be coming from the computer industry. However, as data speeds for wide-area networks become faster, Wireless USB is, to me, a natural to be used to provide connectivity between my laptop and my phone or my PDA and my phone. The data speeds are fast, voice quality is great, and the only thing wired USB has that Wireless USB does not is the ability to power the remote device and charge the battery. But who knows, perhaps the Wireless USB industry will solve that one, too!
In the meantime, Wireless USB is a sleeper that will suddenly find its way into wireless devices and we will all wonder how we got along with it.