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Wireless Personal Area Network Technology

The wireless HID (human interface device) market, which includes wireless mice, keyboards, and remote controls, has historically been dominated by products operating in the 27MHz band. However, 2008 looks set to be a crossover year in which shipments of 2.4GHz-based products outstrip those running at 27MHz, thanks to wholesale product changes by major OEMs.

ABI Research expects that by 2011, 2.4GHz products will account for triple the number of 27MHz products shipped.

Some wireless HID products may employ other communication methods such as Bluetooth, but according to research director Stuart Carlaw, "Bluetooth still does not have price points low enough to allow it to penetrate much outside of its present territory: products aimed at smartphones, and mice for use with Bluetooth-enabled laptops. The narrowing cost differential between 2.4GHz and 27MHz ICs and the improved range of 2.4GHz mean that 2.4GHz products are well positioned to take advantage of the growing need to support media center PCs with rich navigational solutions such as Vista's Side Show."

A new ABI Research Brief, "Wireless PAN Technologies in PC and Mobile HID" forecasts the total market for wireless HID to grow from just over 100 million units in 2005 to over 168 million units in 2012, at a CAGR of 8 percent. A respectable share of that growth may be claimed by companies such as Nordic Semiconductor and TI, which stand to profit from the shift to 2.4GHz products.

According to Carlaw, a wildcard in the development and growth of this market is Wibree, the new low-power wireless local area network technology. "While Wibree is interesting and may have significant potential," he says, "it is still very new, and the jury remains out on the question of whether it can make significant inroads in the wireless HID market."

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