The Other Short-range Wireless Communications --- UltraWideBand and Near Field Communication
Wireless Data Facts predicts UltraWideBand nodes and chipsets will grow at 400% between 2005 and 2008. The Bluetooth SIG is expected to announce an effort to make Bluetooth compatible with Ultrawideband. A joint Bluetooth/UWB solution would give users an increased data rate over standalone Bluetooth which is currently limited to 3 Mbps.
For market acceptance, the story is mixed. On the up side Microsoft recently joined the WiMedia Alliance . The WiMedia camp is concentrating upon eliminating the wires used in USB and IEEE 1394 devices. Microsoft’s participation brings new firepower to the effort. On the downside, standards battles could keep UWB from taking off. There are over 20 proposals on the table.
The other short-range wireless effort has been around for awhile and is called
Near Field Communications. The NFC Consortium lead by
Nokia, Philips and Sony, proposes a standard for consumer electronic devices that allow two devices to exchange information with little or no effort by the user. Networking in the computer world can be done in a more elaborate way, but in the consumer electronic world, less is more. To initiate an NFC communication the user need only “touch” the two devices together.
A whitepaper by the NFC consortium outlines several use cases including transferring photos from a digital camera to a digital television set. If you want to take information from your computer to a PDA so you can take it with you on the road, you need only touch your PDA to the computer and the information is uploaded.
A short tutorial indicates that NFC operates on an inductive RF link at 13.56 MHz and at a close range of 20 cm or less. Data rates for NFC are estimated at 1 Mbps. It targets device-to-device communications (e.g. mobile phone to PC), and promises ease of use, as the user need only hold two NFC-enable devices close together to enable the communication. One device is the initiator and the other is the target. Any device can be either initiator or target. Here’s a web-site with more technical specs.
NFC holds out the added promise that it could make money for the communications operators who might replace Bluetooth with it in the next generation phones. Here’s more on the story.
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Hall T. Martin