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Summary:

The dream of a completely wireless home is a beautiful one — literally — except it’s not going to happen until some serious engineering matters get worked out. But the IEEE is trying. The engineering group, in conjunction with consumer electronics companies, is working on quickly […]

The dream of a completely wireless home is a beautiful one — literally — except it’s not going to happen until some serious engineering matters get worked out. But the IEEE is trying. The engineering group, in conjunction with consumer electronics companies, is working on quickly transmitting large amounts of data (like an HD movie in 1 minute) over short distances through the WirelessHD standard.

The IEEE wants to use the spectrum available at 60 GHz for getting gadgets to talk to one another, but it’s hard to design chips for communicating at that frequency efficiently and cheaply. High-frequency signals diffuse quickly, which means an optimized 60 GHz network would require a lot of chips spread around a room and tightly focused antennas.

But the current iteration of 60 GHz chips are made on silicon germanium (IBM has one) rather than cheaper silicon, so filling a room with them is too pricey for the average Joe (and me). Silicon has overcome such hurdles before, and with a huge end market in devices that includes everything from varying from televisions to DVD players to camcorders, expect a CMOS innovation or a breakthrough in antennas.

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  1. Transmitting large amounts of data over short distances does not equal downloading. You still have to get that multi-GB movie from a server to your house, and that will take a lot longer than one minute. The wireless HD standard is really meant for connecting your plasma TV to a DVR or set-top box without running wires through the walls.

  2. Some company called Vubiq just issued a press release about a new 60 GHz radio that they are selling now, and they talk about wireless HD video. http://www.vubiq.com/news.php

    I don’t see why you would need more than one transmitter and one receiver, even at 60 GHz, if you’re only sending video across the room.

  3. Stacey Higginbotham Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Dan, Vubiq looks interesting. They say they have both SiGe and CMOS technology, so I’ll check them out. As to multiple chips, the idea is one needs multiple transceivers spread around the room to keep boosting the 60GHz signal, which degrades fairly quickly. Using a single transmitter and receiver would be possible, but sucks up more power. If both devices are plugged into a wall, I suppose it wouldn’t matter.

  4. Yeah, I think you’re right. If you are just sending video from your cable box (or DVD player or whatever), then there’s going to be power there, and then receive the video at the TV, where there’s also power, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Let me know what you find out about them.

  5. Hey Stacey, I have U-verse in San Antonio. Come see it if you wish. And see my U-verse blog, http://www.3screens.net

    Alan Weinkrantz

  6. On “High-frequency signals diffuse quickly, which means an optimized 60 GHz network would require a lot of chips spread around a room and tightly focused antennas.”

    Typically modern wireless devices use multiple transceivers (single chip but multiple antennas) to mitigate multi-path problems. These relate to problems because of wireless waves bouncing off from different surfaces before reaching the intended receiver. One solution is to use multiple transceivers to beamform or steer the waves. So the use of multiple transceivers is not related to the conventional repeater/relay concept. In home entertainment scenario, each transmitter(STB)/receiver(TV) will have one chip and set of antennas and thats all.

    I know there is a company called SiBeam who have also announced a CMOS based solution for 60 GHz.

  7. I have used Vizumi and their HD Movie Downloads although they only currently have 2 movies: http://www.vizumi.com/catalog/collection/HD+film+downloads

  8. We Ask for Cheap 60 GHz — and Get It – GigaOM Friday, February 22, 2008

    [...] AM PT Comments (0) I’m impressed. We here at GigaOM complain that the world needs a cheap, silicon-based 60 GHz chip to make wireless HD a reality, and scientists at Australia’s Melbourne University labs [...]

  9. Too Many Signals: Delivering Wireless HD Video – GigaOM Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    [...] in the relatively empty 60GHz spectrum to deliver high-def video, but so far it has some real problems going the distance or getting through solid objects. It’s also expensive, and so far the technology is mostly [...]

  10. The Engineer Draft Pick for 2008 – GigaOM Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    [...] around the country. Think of it as a draft for engineers. This year’s challenge was a 60GHz chip, which you guys seem to care about, and the winners were a team of students from Purdue University. [...]

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