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by Mike Zazaian October 17, 2006 - 12:43pm, 42 Comments

Wireless USB to Clean Cable Clutter

Despite a brash of delays that have plagued the progress of wireless USB, the 480 megabits per second technology should find its way into the mainstream by the end of the year.

Certified Wireless USB, as it’s being officially called, is being developed by the WiMedia Alliance, who has been selected by the USB Implementers Forum, the 1394 Trade Association and the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) for its Ultrawideband (UWB) technology. Ultrawideband was chosen as the next-gen standard due to its speed and versatility. Operating at speeds around 480 megabits per second, UWB connections are faster than current USB 2.0 technologies, and with a range of up to 10 meters. Transfer rates will diminish as the wireless UWB adapters near their 10 meter limit, but the ability to operate an second external hard drive that’s 30 feet away should make up for it. Said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates:

This stuff is plumbing. It’s important that it be there, it’s going to be handy for getting rid of cables hanging around your desk.

Ironically the first couple months of wireless USB aren’t going to be entirely wireless. Before wireless USB capabilities are integrated into products, a series of dongles will have to be used to connect two devices with wireless USB. In the instance of a printer, for example, one dongle would be plugged into the back of the printer, while the other would be plugged into the back of a PC. The two dongles would then be synchronized, either by software or by a button on the dongle, at which point the two devices could communicate wirelessly. But even with a dongle system, Certified Wireless USB means that the criss-cross of cables, and the constant plugging and un-plugging of peripheral devices are things of the past.

As Certified Wireless USB becomes more prevalent use of the connection will become a much more seamless process. Chip manufacturers hope to put UWB chips into expansion cards as early as next year. Wireless USB will also be integrated directly into motherboards further down the road, marking a universal acceptance and compatibility that should allow manufacturers to release more wireless-USB-only solutions. The conversion to total wireless USB dominance may be slow, however, much as the transition between legacy and USB 1.0 was. But even without complete standardization initially wireless USB will streamline the process of connecting peripherals, mp3 players, digital cameras, hard drives to the PC. If only we could say dongle without laughing.

[via cnet]