Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Do you need a Wibree?

Nokia has launched yet another wireless standard into the market.
The bizarrely-named Wibree (it has nothing to do with the Korean WiMax variant called WiBro, and has a very different data rate) operates in 2.4 GHz ISM band with physical layer bit rate of 1 Mbps and provides link distance of 5-10 meters.
The difference appears to be that it has a very low (they won’t really know how low until the chips come back next year) link layer for low power idle mode operation, simple device discovery and reliable point-to-multipoint data transfer with advanced power-save and encryption functionalities. The link layer provides means to schedule Wibree traffic in between Bluetooth transmissions so that the two can work together in phones, or in a single mode to a watch (oh no, Dick Tracy’s video watch raises its ugly head yet again! It hasn't sold in the past - it won't this time either.)
But wasn’t ultrawideband (UWB) looking to do this as well? Companies such as Staccato Communications and Artimi are looking to single chips using very high speed transfers to keep the power down, and they are well ahead of any WiBree developments. These can run Bluetooth protocols over a UWB physical layer, but the spectrum has not been allocated for some of these services.
Meanwhile Zigbee operates in the same 2.4GHz ISM band with a low power, peer-to-peer, hopping, mesh architecture.
Oh, and Philips (duh, NXP Semiconductor) has just launched its WiMax transceiver aimed at mobile phones for data connections. And Cambridge Silicon Radio has Unifi, which combines Bluetooth and WiFi.
But CSR have licensed the technology, alongside Broadcom Corporation, Epson and Nordic Semiconductor. My guess is they can't afford not to if Nokia says that's what they want.
Just how many two way radios do we need in a phone. It’s madness, people. Stop already.

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