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Don't kiss UWB goodbye

Posted: 12 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:UWB? W-USB? USB?

Despite many declarations 'UWB is dead,' recently it feels as though support is starting to grownot just from those pushing the technology, but also from independent industry experts and device manufacturers. So why are we not seeing more of UWB, either in the form of Wireless USB (W-USB) or other variations, in products being shipped today?

UWB is currently facing the very common 'chicken/egg' technology scenario. PC manufacturers (one of the key markets) want more enabled peripherals, such as docking stations, before they will commit to including the technology as standard in their PCs. Concurrently, PC peripheral manufacturers want high PC attach rates before they will integrate the technology into their own products. This has a knock-on effect, meaning consumers do not want to pay a premium to include a technology which offers only a limited supporting ecosystem. In the medium term, this is an issue that looks set to be addressed by a combination of external dongles and by offering consumers the option of configured-to-order W-USB enabled products, as is currently the case with a number of notebook PC manufacturers.

Looking at the line-up on display at Computex this year, it would seem that this ecosystem is slowly starting to ramp up. Examples include Alereon's demonstration of a W-USB Apple iPhone/iPod peripheral reference design, enabling wireless synchronization to iTunes on a Windows or MAC OS, with future enhancements offering connectivity to HDTVs. Also gaining press at Computex is Leyio's W-USB hard drive, which is said to enable data-transfer at 10Mbit/s4x faster than Wi-Fi and 100x faster than classic Bluetooth.

Lisa Arrowsmith, market analyst for IMS Research explains, "Coming back to the tech-age adage, wireless-enabled peripherals are not much use without wireless-enabled devices to connect to. Yet those proclaiming that UWB is already dead seem to be speaking prematurely. One only needs to look at the current state of technologies such as Bluetooth, which everybody seems to forget was also at one point declared dead and buried, to see that it is possible to recover and introduce a successful technology despite the press's death knell."

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