Second Ultra Wideband Standard Headed for Market
By Eric Lin, Tue Jan 27 22:00:00 GMT 2004

There is a battle being waged to determine an Ultra-Wideband (UWB) standard that will broadcast video and other data-intensive streams over short distances. Today Texas Instruments and their Multiband OFDM comrades announced thet would publish a standard in May, and plan to submit it to the IEEE for consideration against Motorola and the Direct Sequence CDMA group.


An article in Reuters, which Techdirt points out reads like a press release, ignores the standards conflict and instead focuses on the applications of UWB. Which we think sound awfully appealing. By equipping cable or satellite receivers, computers and other video intensive hardware with UWB transmitters, you could receive signals from any of the regardless of where you place your TV / Monitor in relation to the source. No more running unsightly coax around your house or large video cables all over your workspace. Imagine camcorders broadcasting their data directly to a computer for editing or a TV for viewing without a bag full of cables. It sounds like a dream.

But instead it sounds like a nightmare of incompatible equipment. Remember the early days of wireless networking, when 802.11b wasn't quite ratified, and every company came out with a wireless card or base station that was incompatible with everyone else's? Or maybe you remember trying to get two first generation Bluetooth devices to talk to each other before profiles were standardized. Well don't rush into buying anything claiming to be UWB anytime soon, or be prepared to repeat that same experience. The IEEE haven't settled on a standard, and according to an article in Mobile Pipeline last month, both Motorola and TI are set on letting the marketplace determine a winner. That is if one can't stop the other in court or some regulatory agency first.

While UWB may be a ways off, many companies have discovered that 802.11g can sustain video-friendly data rates and are turning to that as an interim solution. A number of wireless video receivers allow users to send streams from the computer to a home theater over the wireless networking standard. At CES Sony just announced the Location Free TV, a receiver and LCD screen combo (with an internet connection as well) that will also use 802.11g to send the signal from the base to the screen. UWB is designed to use less power to transmit more data, eventually giving users a good reason to switch once it's standardized.