This week we read another story of the apparent demise of ultrawideband, "Bluetooth group drops ultrawideband, eyes 60 GHz". Not long ago, UWB was going to be the next big thing. Now, as they say, "oh, well, never mind . . . "
So what happened? Why has UWB crashed and burned?
I have no single theory or special insight; such punditry is cheap and easy and meaningless. But I suspect it was a combination, in hard-to-figure proportions, of several factors:
- It's not clear what actual market need UWB served
- A lot of the UWB enthusiasts were in it for their own self-interest (selling ICs, and related software), rather than to meet genuine end-user needs.
- Sometimes, the market simply can't handle another specification or proposal, even if well-intentioned; there's "new-initiative" overload and active resistance or, at the least, passive indifference.
- As with so many developments, UWB was overhyped by its proponents, and yet under-delivered. The message seemed to be "whatever your high-speed wireless connectivity problem, UWB is the answer." But, you have to read the "is" in that phrase as really being "may be", since there are a lot of unknowns here.
- Anytime you are dealing with wideband signals, and short pulses, you have regulatory issues on top of EMI/RFI and co-interference concerns that can't be ignored or waved away easily.
- There were (and still are) genuine technical, component, and operational issues related to a solid, reliable UWB design and protocol that can't be ignored or dismissed simply by wishful thinking.
- And we can't ignore that the costs of UWB were likely to be higher than the market could accept.
So, what do you think? Was UWB just ahead of its time, as is sometimes the case? Was it ill-conceived from the start? What has apparently killed it? And can it come back?♦