Friday, April 22, 2005

USB Continues to Innovate – Look for Wireless USB and USB On-the-Go

You know a technology has some promise when it makes your personal life better. I recently switched from an analog phone line to a VOIP through my cable modem. I was watching TV one day. While sitting there thinking about how much money I was saving I noticed my TIVO was no longer able to make a service call to update the show guide. After several calls to the TIVO service center it became clear that TIVO couldn’t download the service guide over a VOIP line. The support engineer on the phone wasn’t sure why this was so, but he was sure it would not work. He recommended I buy a Wireless USB device for the TIVO which would establish a connection through my wireless hub on my cable modem. It worked like a charm. I was impressed with how easy it was.

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) continues to innovate bringing new variations to the industry. In the promotion stage is Wireless USB (WUSB). It is a star topology network that can connect up to 127 devices to create a “cluster”. To achieve the high data rates (pegged at 480 Mpbs in the initial phase, but reaching above 1 Gbps in future implementations), the units in the cluster must be in close proximity to one another. Also, multiple clusters can be created within a group of units. It is meant to be a wireline replacement supporting digital multimedia, audio, and video formats, as well as data transfers. WUSB could handle multiple HDTV streams, each running between 19 and 24 Mbps. A more detailed definition can be found here.

Existing USB 2.0 could be upgraded to Wireless USB with the addition of an adaptor. An Israeli company called Wisair showed a demo of their device connecting a digital camera, inkjet printer, and hard drive to a USB hub wirelessly connected to a host PC. You can read more about it here.

The industry is about to approve the specification for WUSB 1.0. This article
has more about it, which should happen in May of this year.

It’s still in the “promoter” phase, but given the traction behind USB, it could overtake Bluetooth which has been around for awhile now but still has a difficult time gaining traction beyond cell phones.

The other technology to look for is USB On-the-Go (OTG). USB(OTG) was developed to enable portable devices such as handhelds, cell phones, and digital cameras to communicate. USB OTG is USB with the following additions:

1. Ability to be host or peripheral and switch between the two – to enable point to point communications.
2. Lower power consumption mode – for battery powered devices
3. Smaller form factor -- for mobile device connectivity

There’s a nice Q&A for USB OTG here.

As always, if you are working with USB, I would like to talk with you further. Please contact me at

Best regards,
Hall T. Martin


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Saturday, August 12, 2006 1:56:00 AM  
Anonymous WUSB Research said...

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