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UWB to Transform the Digital Home Market

Ultra Wideband (UWB) is set to revolutionize the way that devices are connected to each other, affecting the markets for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even the USB on PCs. This technology is due to start being incorporated into devices from 2006, and the number of UWB-enabled devices will increase by more than 400 percent year-to-year through 2008. These are the findings from the latest report by research firm Visiongain.

The basic concept of UWB is to develop, transmit and receive an extremely short duration burst of RF energy. It is a cheap, lower power solution that will enable electronic devices in homes and offices to be connected efficiently and without the burden of cabling. This will be especially important for connecting multimedia devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones, PCs, HDTV monitors and printers. As such, UWB represents a major step forward towards making the concept of the wireless digital home a reality.

�UWB offers a promising solution to the scarcity of RF spectrum by allowing UWB-enabled services to coexist with current radio systems with minimal or no interference. This coexistence means that there is the advantage of avoiding expensive spectrum licensing fees,� says Visiongain analyst Sherman Fridman. �The array of potential uses for UWB in the home -- particularly in a multimedia and entertainment environment -- will spur the uptake of this technology.�

The future of UWB�s success is hampered with two standards being debated - MB-OFDM and DS-UWB, and the battle looks set to be taken to the market. MB-OFDM has the backing of Intel and Texas Instruments. Motorola and Freescale Semiconductor are among DS-UWB supporters, as this technology is targeted primarily at multimedia and handheld devices.

Another potential issue for the future of UWB is that current FCC restrictions mean that UWB is only able to send and receive data over short distances, less than 30 feet. This will hamper future deployment in corporate environments.

Bluetooth has taken advantage of the UWB standards roadblock and has announced that it will work with both competing UWB groups to develop new wireless-enabled products under the Bluetooth brand. Bluetooth SIG�s roadmap includes a way-point called 'Seattle,' which will feature Bluetooth�s first compatibility with UWB.

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