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Wireless standards reveal interoperability setbacks

Posted: 10 Nov 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:interoperability? wireless standard? mobile payment?

Standards such as Bluetooth low-energy (BLE), NFC, WiFi Direct, WiFi Display and the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standards are boosting smartphone uptake. However, they also pose challenges and issues for developers, disclosed Ruth Hennigar, VP of software product management at Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

In addition, it could take four to six months before Android 4.0Ice Cream Sandwichbecomes widely available in handsets, added Hennigar. For example, one of the most interesting but complicated applications for NFC is mobile payments. "The banks, carriers and merchants all want to be in control [of mobile payments] and customers are still nervous about using it."

"Right now you can only have one payment model in your phone at one time because of the carriers, and merchants don't want to deploy multiple scanning devicesso it will take a while to work out who gets the money and how," she added.

Separately, the WiFi Alliance is expected to ratify by the end of the year the specification for WiFi Display, a technique for streaming video from handsets to TVs. Many TV makers are expected to support the wireless link in 2012 sets but "TV manufacturers have a tendency to do their own thing, so there will be lots of interoperability challenges to make it all work," she stated. A related technology, WiFi Direct, is just now being rolled out in handsets as a peer-to-peer method for sharing data and media, continued Hennigar.

Ruth Hennigar

WiFi Direct is about to debut in handsets, said Hennigar.

The interoperability specifications defined by the DLNA could be baked into as many as a billion systems by 2014. But the DLNA specs still leave something to be desired, noted Hennigar. "It's fairly hard to set up and discover devices on DLNA. It doesn't work consistently across devices, so if someone can crack the code on making DLNA more useable and discoverable, there should be an app for that," she quipped.

For its part, BLE will be supported on next-generation Motorola Razr phones. The technology will open the door to Bluetooth peripherals beyond today's headsets and keyboards, including medical and fitness devices and a range of other possible products.

Hennigar revealed that it could take as long as six months before handsets broadly use Android 4.0. "Motorola doesn't even have the source code yet. I imagine it may have to go through a revision before it is ready for products and then there is still carrier testing."

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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