How Many Cables Need to Be Replaced?
By Carlo Longino, Wed Jul 14 21:00:00 GMT 2004

Sony researchers are evidently working on memory cards with built-in wireless capabilities to replace cable connections, in typical Sony fashion: ignoring standards for proprietary technology.

Never mind Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, infrared or even UWB. Sony appears to think there simply aren't enough cable-replacement technologies around, and there's room for another: the tranStick. Sort of a combination of an SDIO card and Bluetooth, tranSticks are Sony Memory Sticks with some unnamed wireless technology built in, allowing pairs of them to communicate and share their memory.

Maybe something's been lost in translation, but it's hard to see any use for this at all. The devices have such advanced features as providing "feedback that the devices are connected, and also allow the connection to be closed or changed the way it would be if the devices were connected by physical wires." Wow. Engadget reports the company is aiming to have these ready in the next two years, just in time for Bluetooth to be even more commonplace, UWB to be entering the market, and this Wi-Fi thing people are talking about to be completely entrenched.

These devices are from Sony's Computer Science Laboratories, and while it is doubtful they'll ever make it to market exactly as they now appear, if they're supposed to represent the company's idea of future products, it's no wonder Sony is struggling.

Another reason the company is imploding? The labs' Web site describes their main research theme as "open systems". Evidently Sony's idea of open is to eschew existing established standards in favor of proprietary formats and technology -- going back to Betamax and the MiniDisc, and more recently ATRAC and the Memory Stick.

So just what the world needs is another cable-replacement technology with yet another incompatible technology. Of course, Sony will probably add some sort of ridiculous DRM to these, allowing them to communicate only between devices you actually own, streaming only data that's undeniably yours.

But whatever you think of Sony's idea, we can all agree they need some new Photoshop jockeys -- the photo of the concept looks like an 3rd-grade science project. Or maybe it's just allowing for plausible deniability.