Wireless Systems Design

Standards Compete For Home Front

Recently, the IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g standards have been gearing up to meet the wireless multimedia needs of the home. Yet these WLAN players may soon be facing stiff competition—especially when it comes to wireless video. In two recent demonstrations, Ultra Wide Band (UWB) has flexed its media muscle. The first demonstration featured FOCUS Enhancements, Inc.'s (www.FOCUSinfo.com) UWB technology, which reportedly transferred uncompressed video at a raw data rate of 216 Mbps. The demonstration reached distances of up to 20 m without the use of buffers. Meanwhile, Alereon's (www.alereon.com) UWB solution demonstrated an ability to wirelessly transfer the contents of a DVD movie in less than 100 sec.

The efforts of FOCUS Enhancements were shown in separate demonstrations. The company transmitted high-quality, uncompressed, standard-definition video through walls and from room to room at a 216-Mbps raw data-transfer rate. The transmissions were conducted without video interruption via generic, non-directional antennas. In addition, people were present and moving in the transmission space.

Through this success, FOCUS Enhancements' technology also exceeded the UWB standards that were set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The IEEE set the 802.15.3a UWB specification at 110 Mbps over a distance of 10 m. Impressively, the FOCUS demonstrations claim to have just about doubled both the distance and the transfer rate.

The company intends to utilize its UWB technology to target growing wireless-video product applications. The UWB technology enables faster transmission rates than the 25-Mbps-per-stream rate that's required for compressed high-definition video streams. As a result, it should allow for many simultaneous video transmissions without bogging down the network. This longer transmission distance also is intended to enable wireless-video distribution throughout an entire home.

The demonstration from Alereon also reinforced UWB's video readiness. The company demonstrated a 0.13-µm CMOS, 480-Mbps-capable Multiband OFDM Alliance (MBOA)- and Wireless-USB-compatible chip. In doing so, Alereon took an important first step in the commercialization of UWB for use in applications that demand the rapid transfer of large files, such as multimedia applications.

The UWB solution from Alereon claims to be the first of its kind to demonstrate an ability to wirelessly transfer the contents of a DVD movie in under 100 sec. That amount of time is exponentially quicker than the more than 30 min. that are required by even the fastest Wi-Fi technologies. The same Alereon solution allows consumers to quickly transfer an entire music play list in just seconds. In addition, it replaces the USB cables that connect printers and other PC peripherals in a personal-area network. To learn more about UWB's progress, please visit the Multiband OFDM Alliance web site at www.multibandofdm.org.

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