Does the world need another wireless radio crammed inside a smartphone? Silicon Image, which is pushing a wireless standard known as WirelessHD hopes so. The company, which is behind the HDMI standard, thinks that the ability to send a vast amount of data at high speeds over short distances is perfect for taking mobile gaming onto the big screen.
The chips which currently cost about $10, takes advantage of the 60GHz spectrum which has high data rates, but can’t go very far. That spectrum also doesn’t pass through walls, people or objects, which means that Silicon Image has had to develop new adaptive beam-forming technologies to make sure players who are using their phones to project a mobile game on their TV screens can play without inadvertently interrupting the signal.
For the last five years, the effort to commercialize this band of unlicensed spectrum has been hotly contested by different chip companies and standard. Silicon Image bought a company called SiBeam in 2011 to score WirelessHD, long after I thought the other standards were doomed when Intel and Broadcom created the WiGig alliance in 2009 to push a different standard. But the executives at Silicon Image insist the two technologies can co-exist in the spectrum band, and that WiGig is more of an effort to push Wi-Fi into higher data rates — you can achieve multigigabit speeds with WiGig and WirelessHD radios.
So Silicon Image is hoping the gamers, concerned about latency, will demand WirelessHD radios inside their mobile handset and help bring the technology to the mass market. Already, one can buy the radios to plug into televisions or other screens for $30 or $40 and computer makers already put WirelessHD into their high-end gaming machines. The latest Silicon Image chip is finally small enough and efficient enough to fit inside the crowded handset form factor. Mobile games should be able to buy devices with WirelessHD by the second half of 2013.