UWB Devices Take Step Closer to Reality

The WiMedia Alliance, the controlling group for Ultra-wideband (UWB), said earlier this week that it had certified the first products compatible with the standard.

UWB is a short-range wireless technology that is essentially the successor to Bluetooth, after the WiMedia Alliance and Bluetooth SIG penned an interoperability agreement in May 2005. The technology offers higher rates of data transfer than Bluetooth, which is becoming more essential with tech devices demanding bigger chunks of data.

Currently, UWB calls for data throughput of about 480MBps, equivalent to the capabilities of wired USB 2.0. Bluetooth 2.0 is only capable of data speeds of around 3.0MBps, too slow to transfer any meaningful amount of data for intensive applications.

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Altogether, some 12 companies have had their chipsets approved by the group, including those from Alereon, Intel, Realtek Semiconductor, and others. The products had to pass through rigorous compliance and interoperability testing, and their approval paves the way for inclusion in real world devices.

"This is a pivotal development for UWB," WiMedia Alliance president Stephen Wood said in a statement. "With certified platforms available, manufacturers can begin utilizing WiMedia UWB in their consumer products at an accelerated rate."

Devices based on the technology will likely start appearing quite soon, especially once the Bluetooth SIG approves its 3.0 standard -- which includes features of UWB -- by mid-2008.

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