Would Wireless USB be Useful on Phones?

13 Comments

You remember wireless USB, that technology that sounded promising but never seemed to go anywhere? As a refresher, wireless USB is exactly what the name implies, the ability to use USB peripherals with PCs without messing with cables.

I’ve been thinking that maybe wireless USB would be a good way to go for phones. Now, hear me out before you reject it out of hand. I’m thinking specifically it could be a better method for getting keyboards working with phones. We have Bluetooth now, but it can be flaky and if your phone supports keyboard usage then usually you can’t use your headset at the same time.

Wireless USB could be leveraged on those phones that already support USB, and there are some out there. A wireless keyboard would be easier to use than the wired variety, and if UWB modules became common, then new uses might appear.

I’m not sure this is very practical, but I want to hear what you think. Do you see a use for wireless USB? Any uses other than keyboards?

13 Comments

johnkzin

The other problem with bluetooth is: many people only provide partial profile support. If everyone supported HID, BIP, DUN, PAN, FTP, A2DC (if audio is involved), hands-free modes, etc., then that’d be amazing. But there are several device that could easily benefit from, say, FTP or HID, yet don’t support it.

I don’t see that being any different with Wireless USB. Sure, you can sync your iPhone over USB, but it doesn’t support mass-storage mode, does it? What’s to stop the device makers from only partially supporting wireless USB? And if they do, then how is that really any better than now?

JM

Wireless USB on the phone would be useful, but it’s overkill for a keyboard. Wireless USB is meant for higher bandwidth applications over relatively short distances, the range is similar to bluetooth. Applications that would be interesting would be things like file transfer/syncing (like Joe’s Pre example), streaming video to an HDTV, or some sort of docking application to add a keyboard and large display to a smartphone. I’m sure there are other applications where higher bandwidth to/from a phone would be useful.

David G

IMMA LET YOU FINISH, BUT BLUETOOTH IS ONE OF THE WORST PROTOCOLS OF ALL TIME!

/kanye

But for real, I kind of wish that we could get a decent wireless protocol. Bluetooth is so flakey, it’s a joke. It sounds like WUSB isn’t too much better. Couldn’t we just build off of WiFi protocols which seem to be fairly reliable and high-bandwidth? Maybe open things up so that we don’t have so many limitations (I.E. phones that can send contacts via bluetooth, but not files, and not syncing?)

g.smith

Hello. You people seem like you might enjoy reading the new Nov 09 issue of Incisor magazine, it covers many of the issues we are discussing here and more. Not sure if it’s proper to set the link here but you can find it easily enough I’m sure.

HG

Having wireless USB could be a good thing. From what I know, Bluetooth uses less amount of power compared to Wi-Fi radio, and other radios in laptops. I wouldn’t mind having wireless USB but I would only use it if power drain is low. Another option is that they could release the newer bluetooth with higher transfer speeds and lower power drain. I mostly use BT on my laptops to set BT DUN with my BB Storm 2 and for BT Keyboards, and magic mouse.

Jacob

Wireless USB uses too much power, more than Bluetooth (which is already too power hungry to begin with). So the advantage of being wireless will be diminished if you’re plugged in all the time.

I thought wireless USB would be great for a wireless dock at home, but if you have to plug in power anyway, there’s no real advantage over a conventional docking station. Plus it’s far too slow, in tests it’s something like 10 MB/s, which is pretty much comparable to an 802.11n connection. Only a few feet away from your base, and the speed drops considerably.

Joe

Except when wireless charging docks like the Touchstone and Powermat become more commonplace.

I’d absolutely love if there was a way to easily sync new music to my Pre while it’s on the Touchstone without needing an extra app on my computer to do it over Wifi.

Right now the only other way is a rooted Pre using WinSCP.

chad

Most of the issues with BT are with their stacks… I have zero issues with bluetooth on windows 7 (keyboard, mouse, and some DUN) bt I have seen issues with wm phones and afew blackberry issues.

If the handset manufacturer put in a halfasses bluetooth stack why do you belive that they would implement a good uwb stack? I think if we started to see uwb on handsets it would probally be just as flaky…

Scott

This could work ’cause

1) bluetooth is WAY too flaky
2) eliminate the need for the BT radio

Jordan Running

The number of people who want to hook up a regular keyboard to their phone is vanishingly small. It sounds cool to geeks like us, but really, it’s a feature nobody’s asking for.

The reason phones aren’t going to get the ability to access wireless USB devices is the same reason phones cannot access wired USB devices (they can only act as the slave, not the host)–the hardware needed to act as a host is more expensive than the hardware for slaves. This isn’t going to change with wireless USB.

Now, I absolutely believe that phones will soon have the ability to act as hosts for devices like keyboards and mass storage devices–and it’s going to bring with it a lot of cool applications–but I don’t think wireless USB is the technology, nor external keyboards the killer app, that’s going to make that happen.

Luscious

The problem is wireless USB requires a dongle on the other end – and carrying that extra defeats the purpose of being wireless. I’d be happy with bluetooth to be honest, but those keyboards are even rarer to find – the one James used so proudly with his Viliv S5 was discontinued by the manufacturer years ago, and the few other models left are only compatible with certain PDA models.

Rather than build keyboards with wireless USB, I’d prefer to see some more bluetooth models, especially the folding kind like the iGo Stowaway. When you can already sync using wifi and bluetooth, I see wireless USB has having only superficial practicality.

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