Friday, April 28, 2006

Why Media is NOT an IEEE standard?

It's hard to find time to catch up with all techno news in this era of information overload. I have an RSS aggregator with more than a dozen feeds but very often after updating the feeds, my concentration was distracted by other activities on my workstation.

I made a mistake in the previous post because I missed some news. The WiMedia UWB platform hasn't been an IEEE standard yet and is not going to become one because the IEEE 802.15.3a project was disbanded by vote. Why? according to a news source after 3 years of UWB standardization effort, even though the task group (TG3a) has consolidated 23 UWB PHY candidates into 2 proposals, i.e. MB-OFDM and DS-UWB, it failed to reach a consensus on one candidate UWB physical layer (PHY) specification.

Fyi, MB-OFDM is backed by the WiMedia Alliance while DS-UWB is supported by the UWB Forum. The companies involved in developing an IEEE standard always push core parts of their technologies to be incorporated into an upcoming standard in an effort to have time advantage. So it's difficult to unite them.

What's the impact? As with other emerging technologies, having a standard means products from different manufacturers or vendors will be interoperable, therefore consumers won't be locked to one vendor. In the end, it will lead to wider market acceptance and cheaper products for end users. In the absence of a standard, what to expect? Perhaps, the stronger contender becomes the winner and takes all.

This might be a clue. Wireless USB has become a specification in May 2005. WUSB 1.0 resembles USB 2.0 except it is wireless and it runs over WiMedia UWB radio platform. New PCs carrying WUSB radio interface will be out to market in 2006 holiday season according to another news source. Like wired USB, WUSB can do file transfer, DUN, synch, video streaming, peripheral interconnection. It supports 480 Mbps transfer rate at up to 3 meters, 110 Mbps at 10 meters. It also allows devices with dual-role capability (both as host and peripheral) to interconnect, that's USB OTG (On-The-Go). Existing PCs and devices can be WUSB-enabled using an adapter (Wire Adapter).

Whether Bluetooth will embrace both UWB PHYs or choose only the WiMedia's? It's still unclear to me. I have to check it out. But since there are overlaps, what killer apps should the next Bluetooth offer as WUSB is already on the horizon, at the entrance gate?

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