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'My Wi-Fi' to enable traveling PANs

Posted: 04 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:devices Wi-Fi? PAN? wireless point access?

Intel Corp. wants to connect millions of Wi-Fi-enabled devices by building a wireless access point called My Wi-Fi into Centrino 2-equipped notebook PCs, establishing a personal area network (PAN) that travels with users.

Intel product manager Gary Muntz said: "We are taking the existing WLAN hardware in the Centrino 2 notebook and virtualizing a second interface. [Then] we are taking network access functionality and putting it inside the notebook so it goes with you where ever you go."

Free software for synchronization
The wireless access point could link smart phones, music players, cameras and other devices with built-in Wi-Fi links, maintaining connections to Centrino 2 notebooks via the PAN. Intel said it will release free software in March to handle synchronization tasks, streaming audio and video and other notebook applications.

Apple's laptop computers prohibit ad-hoc network connections to Wi-Fi-enabled devices without an access point like its AirPort. As a result, Intel has stepped in to demonstrate how My Wi-Fi works with Apple's iTunes, iPhone and the Apple TV STBs.

Intel is amassing software drivers that work with most major manufacturers of Wi-Fi-enabled devices so that its Centrino 2 notebooks can connect to them even in locations where no broadband connection is available. Where broadband is available, notebooks would act as hubs to connect up to eight other laptop computers or Wi-Fi peripherals to the Internet.

Wi-Fi PAN invasion
Intel is pursuing wireless peripheral makers to include its PAN software in their devices. It claims such a move would make obsolete standalone wireless access nodes like Apple's Airport, in favor of Wi-Fi devices that can establish their own PANs.

"Over the next two to three years, we are going to see Wi-Fi PAN technology migrate from the notebook into all sorts of other devices, like a TV in your living room or a printer in your office to support these really fast, easy one-to-one pairings," Muntz predicted.

According to Intel, one-to-one pairing is the key to maintaining the high data rates needed for applications like streaming video from Centrino 2 notebooks. Under Intel's scheme, data travels directly from an application like iTunes to an Apple TV, rather than being routed through an AirPort or other access point where it must compete with other network traffic. As a consequence, all available Wi-Fi bandwidth can be used to connect laptops to a TV, enabling video to be streamed using existing technology.

Besides Apple peripherals, Intel demonstrated My Wi-Fi working with wireless printers, Sony's Playstation 3 and Portable, Microsoft's Xbox and a dozen different digital cameras.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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