Wireless USB, Getting Ready for Prime Time

The buzz on Wireless USB is on an upswing, and if things progress as planned we should start seeing a range of products coming to market with wireless USB functionality. I would say this could happen in 9-to-12 months – and I am taking my cues from sources in the chip business. Last week, San Diego-based Staccato Communications and Fujitsu showed off a prototype of a digital camera that has built in wireless USB.

Wireless USB is the first major application for ultrawideband, according to Rick Kornfeld, President and CEO, Staccato. Ultrawideband (UWB) is a newly allocated unlicensed spectrum (3.1 – 10.6GHz) that provides an efficient use of scarce radio bandwidth that is particularly useful in the high data rate personal-area networks (PAN.) Wireless USB can transport information at speeds of 480 megabits per second, which makes it comparable to current USB 2.0. ( More technical details here!)

Many believe that wireless USB (or UWB) is going to be especially useful in-homes for connecting a plethora of digital devices – from set-top boxes to digital video recorders to even high definition LCD televisions. Many would see them competing with 802.11 technologies, I feel the two will coexist nicely as we will find out. (Wireless USB for video and other services that demand QoS and 802.11 for data transport around the house? Could happen!) I think the biggest challenge for Wireless USB/UWB is not the desire of consumers to adopt it, or finding use for it. Instead it is the internal bickering of opposing camps which could slow down the roll out of this technology. (Intel, TI, Staccato versus FreeScale Gang!)