Wireless USB creeps nearer

The wireless replacement for USB has come a step closer to reality -- and some questions on migration have been answered -- with the release of a reference design from Wisair.

Wireless USB, which will work at 480Mbit/s using short-range ultra-wide band (UWB) radio has been specified by a group led by Intel, and has its standards published online.

Wisair has produced working Wireless USB devices that connecting wireless and existing wired devices. A USB dongle plugs into the PC and gives it Wireless USB powers, while a wireless USB "hub" has sockets for existing USB devices and a wireless USB link back to the PC.

"Wireless USB, naturally, will be native in the PC and in devices eventually, but to support your existing PCs and laptops and all the millions of USB devices out there -- the cameras and hard disks and printers -- you have to start with a wired adapter concept," Serdar Yurdakul, Wisair's director of marketing told online news site Wi-Fi Planet.

Wireless USB puts the USB protocols on top of an underlying ultra-wide band pipe, and the USB standards makers have chosen the WiMedia flavor of UWB which is backed by Intel. Earlier this month, the WiMedia succeeded in getting its specification published as a formal standard by the ECMA group -- despite its being deadlocked in the IEEE by a rival proposal from Freescale.

As with the debate on underlying UWB standards, the wireless USB issue may not be entirely simple. USB specialist Icron has demonstrated its own wireless ExtremeUSB USB 2.0 implementation over Freescale's UWB products.

Meanwhile, just to show that there's still interest in wired USB, we noticed while we were at Icron's site, that it has pushed regular USB up to 10km using fiber-optic. Now we're trying to imagine a use for that.

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