LAS VEGAS Intel Corp. released at the Consumer Electronics Show new software to let its Centrino 2 notebooks create a personal area network of connected Wi-Fi devices. The software lets notebooks create a short range Wi-Fi network of up to eight devices such as photo frames, cameras and printers in addition to its link to an access point.
The product is an effort to add value to Intel's Wi-Fi chips, part of a package including the processor and chip set Intel sells to PC makers. While some OEMs adopt the entire Intel platform, others substitute Wi-Fi chips from Atheros or other suppliers.
Notebooks can already create personal area network connections with Bluetooth or other technologies. Startup Ozmo released a streamlined Wi-Fi chip geared for PANs in June.
The Intel software creates a virtual second Wi-Fi link on existing Intel 5100 and 5300 Wi-Fi chips used in Centrino notebooks. It taps the Internet Connection Sharing facility in Windows Vista to give the virtual personal area network a connection to the Internet.
In addition to new driver software for the Intel chips to create the virtual network, Intel also released its so-called Intel My Wi-Fi graphical user interface to manage the net on Vista. The software supports a handful of Wi-Fi security protocols including WEP, WPA and WPA2.