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Intel withdraws UWB R&D effort amid shakeout

Posted: 06 Nov 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel UWB? R&D? intellectual property?

Intel Corp. has quietly halted a five-year design effort in UWB. The news is another blow for the emerging technology for which support has dwindled because of the expected downturn.

UWB startup WiQuest Communications closed its doors Oct. 31. Earlier this week, startup Alereon Inc. bought the UWB assets of Stonestreet One, a software developer, adding less than 10 workers to Alereon's 60 employees.

To date, some observers claimed the UWB technology has been drained by challenges seemingly on every front in performance, power, price and global regulatory conflicts with significant market penetration still at least a year away. In the meantime, both analysts and participants said they expect more closures and consolidation activities.

Ending an initiative
Intel released an internal UWB research effort about five years ago under its new business initiatives group. About a month ago, the company decided to end the project after a regularly scheduled review by the company's product groups failed to find a sponsor for the design team.

"It was a typical make-versus-buy decision," said Stephen Wood, technology strategist, corporate technology group, Intel, who also serves as president of the WiMedia Alliance that promotes and sets compliance standards for UWB products.

Intel business groups said they could source UWB technology outside the company if they need it. It has investments that give it access to intellectual property in two UWB startups including Staccato Communications, which recently rolled out a second-generation device.

Struggling Staccato
One source who refused to be named said Staccato could be one of the next UWB startups to fold because it has as little as two months of financing left. Staccato's CEO said in early September that the company was funded until the end of 2009 and a new round of funding was in the works with existing investors.

Staccato has absorbed four rounds of funding totaling about $63 million to date. The last round was for $17.5 million and closed in October 2007.

Artimi Corp. is another UWB startup rumored to be a likely casualty of the shakeout. The company closed it last funding, a $31.5 series B round, in March 2007. However, Artimi has not made any statements of its plans to shut down.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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