SAN JOSE, Calif. An ad hoc consortium of mainly large consumer electronics companies has finished the initial specification for short-range 60 GHz radios. The WirelessHD 1.0 spec will compete with a wide variety of standard and proprietary approaches trying to deliver a wireless link for video to the digital home.
WirelessHD defines a 60 GHz link that delivers up to 4 Gbits/second at distances up to 10 meters. Intel Corp. recently joined the consortium announced in late 2006 which includes consumer giants such as Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba as well as SiBeam, a startup that expects to have silicon for the technology soon.
The spec promises to deliver uncompressed video at resolutions up to 1080-progressive, protected by the existing Digital Transmission Content Protection technology. It also uses a form of proximity control favored by Hollywood studios so premium video content cannot be sent beyond the boundaries of a home or room.
WirelessHD defines a new method of device discovery and control separate from the widely used Universal Plug and Play technology, spearheaded by Microsoft and a separate consortium. "After evaluating all the options we concluded there was a better approach [for discovery and control] and defined what we call AVC," said John LeMoncheck, chief executive of SiBeam.
AVC is tailored to the needs of the directional beam-forming wireless technology which generally establishes point-to-point connections aimed at high bandwidth and quality-of-service. For instances, AVC defines roles such as a coordinator—typically a digital TV—and an end station which could be a digital camera or any other device.
The WirelessHD spec is available to anyone who becomes a member of the consortium which charges a $5,000 annual fee. Royalties for using the technology have not been publically disclosed. The group expects to define a set of compliance tests for WirelessHD by mid-2008.
Separately, the IEEE 802.15.3c group is defining a basic physical layer standard for 60 GHz radios, a technology many observers see having huge potential in the digital home. In addition, other vendors are developing their own versions of 60 GHz, ultrawideband and Wi-Fi variants to handle many of the same applications.
Sigma Designs and Fujitsu Microelectronics America, Inc. announced earlier this week they are collaborating on a UWB variant called Wireless HDAV to carry high def video. Sigma supplies a video processor and WiMedia complaint UWB chip set, and Fujitsu provides an H.264 video codec chip. The duo will demo the technology streaming high def content across ten meters at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.
"We look forward to showcasing Wireless HDAV [to] wirelessly connect from HDTVs, high definition DVD players, IPTV set-top boxes and digital media adapters powered by Sigma media processors to mobile USB devices in the future," said Hung Nguyen, general manager of Sigma's wireless division in a prepared statement.
Separately, Belkin International Inc. will demo at CES a prototype product for carrying wireless HD video using a proprietary variant of Wi-Fi from startup Amimon Inc. Belkin will use the link to connect high def DVD players and TVs.
Amimon recently won approval to use the High Definition Content protection technology also used on the wired HDMI interface widely deployed on today's HDTVs.