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Sony seeks alliance toward standardized UWB tech

Posted: 21 Jul 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:digital IC? consumer electronics? UWB?

Sony Corp. has rallied a group of 14 companiesmainly large Japanese consumer electronics firmsaround an ad hoc effort to standardize proprietary UWB technology it first demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.

Canon, Kodak, Hitachi Ltd, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba are among the members of the new TransferJet consortium. The group will develop a specification for the technology that can handle data rates up to 560Mbit/s, according to Sony.

Visual effect
One of the benefits of the technology is a simple touch-to-associate user model. Sony demoed TransferJet at CES by placing a digital camera on top of a TV to create a link that automatically displayed the camera's pictures on a TV.

The demo has apparently attracted interest from top TV and camera makers now in the consortium. Other consortium members include Victor Co. (Japan), KDDI Corp., Kenwood Corp., Pioneer, Seiko Epson and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.

It's not clear when the new specification will be available. At CES, Sony said it will ship products using TransferJet in 2009.

Target distance range
TransferJet is aimed only at very short distances. It operates in the 4.5GHz frequency range and can send data at physical-layer rates up to 560Mbit/s over distances of up to just 1.25inch. It uses a direct-sequence spread spectrum modulation technique in which the transmitted signal takes up more bandwidth than the information signal that is being modulated.

Sony pitched the technology as an alternative to other UWB efforts that face difficulties getting approval to use spectrum in various countries worldwide.

Wireless link
There's no shortage of short-range wireless links aiming at the digital home. A wide swath of companies, led by Intel, has been trying to drive a UWB ver as a wireless USB link. To date, the products have had difficulties hitting their 480Mbit/s PHY layer data rates. However, notebook makers such as Lenovo are now shipping some wireless USB-based systems.

Companies such as Pulse-Link are using other forms of UWB for other wireless applications. Pulse-Link's chips are about to ship in an LCD TV from Westinghouse aiming at uses such as linking a wall-mounted TV with a receiver box.

At CES, Panasonic said its long-term strategy for in-room wireless will be based on 60GHz technology being developed by startup SiBeam Corp. and standardized by the IEEE 802.15.3c group. The 60GHz technology aims at data rates of a few Gbit/s and distances of a few meters to handle uncompressed video within a room. It is backed by the WirelessHD consortium, which includes many of the same companies in the TransferJet group.

Startup Amimon and others are designing variations of Wi-Fi for high-bandwidth, in-room links, also targeting applications in LCD TVs.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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