Friday, December 15, 2006

Wouldn't you mind if your PC doesn't have a USB connector?
There comes Wireless USB !

Perhaps, nothing more confusing in the realm of burgeoning wireless standards than Wireless USB (or WUSB for short). The name itself could create misperception. Below are my notes on the Certified Wireless USB (its complete name).

1. Wireless USB does NOT mean USB port plus a wireless dongle such as that for Wi-Fi, IrDA, or Bluetooth. But a type of a Wireless USB implementation and this is the most likely case in the first phase is just wireless business as usual, that's you'll connect a Wireless USB dongle (referred to as HWA or Host Wire Adapter in the spec) to a USB connector on your PC to enable Wireless USB on it, like what you have done with Bluetooth, IrDA and Wi-Fi right now. Meanwhile, legacy USB products such as your printer, scanner, keyboard and mouse can be connected wirelessly to the WUSB-enabled computer via a DWA (Device Wire Adapter).

2. Because every one of us has an intense relation with USB port and cord every day, in our mind USB is always identical with that rectangular connector. It's hard to imagine a USB without cable. When the Wireless USB comes into existence, maybe we should start calling the current USB a "Wired" USB to remove confusion. Wireless USB has similar properties with USB 2.0 minus the cable.

3. To initiate a connection, two wireless USB devices have to associate each other to ensure both are the parties that want to talk to each other. The process which is called pairing in Bluetooth. There are two association models, i.e. numeric association model using number input/display and cable association model by connecting two devices via a short cable before going wireless. Not entirely getting rid of cable.

4. The physical layer as has been discussed in the previous post uses UWB radio (a very wide spectrum in the 3.1 - 10.6 GHz band) based on the WiMedia Multiband OFDM platform. This results in very high throughput (by current standard), that's 480 Mbps at up to 3 meters and 110 Mbps at up to 10 meters.

5. Because of its range limitation, it is categorized as a Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) technology, the same category as Bluetooth but added with this citation "high-rate" WPAN. When Bluetooth starts using UWB radio as its PHY and becomes high-rate as well, I wonder how it will be named and positioned on the new wireless map.

6. Similar with Bluetooth, the topology is point-to-point in a hub-and-spoke configuration. In a Wireless USB cluster, there must be a host and up to 127 devices, compared to a master and up to 7 active slaves in a Bluetooth piconet. In an OTG (On-The-Go) capable Wireless USB gadget, it can sometimes act as a host or a device depending on each connection purpose.

7. The targeted usage scenario is home entertainment connectivity, which encompasses TV, PC-related hardware, CE (Consumer Electronics), and mobile/portable communication/multimedia devices. Most are the same devices that have already carried Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Why did they (Intel n co) create another wireless, while we're overwhelmed with the existing techno? There is a formal logic behind the standard creation that's the success of USB as a number one interface on PC and other PC-related hardware. We must admit though that some portion of that success comes from that wireless dongle that plugs nicely into a USB rectangular connector.

Whether Wireless USB will be as successful as its counterpart "Wired" USB? Its promoters said yes, because it is easy to use and plug-and-play. But surely, Wireless USB will find competition from older wireless standards.

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