Wednesday, February 1, 2012

News from the WiFi front

There's been a couple of news stories this week dealing with advances in WiFi technology.

A new technology called WiGig hopes to provide a complement to basic WiFi, at least for certain types of data sharing.  WiGig will use  a much higher set of frequencies, in a part of the frequency spectrum that is currently underutilized.  Using the 60GHz band, rather than the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands currently used by WiFi (and a lot of other devices), will allow WiGig to transfer data at much higher speeds - up to 7Gbps compared to WiFi top speeds of 100 Mbps.  The trade-off is that the WiGig signal doesn't go as far - about  5 meters instead of WiFi's 25 meter range.  But there's an advantage to the short range - there's less likelihood that there will be interference from other devices.
  Samples of WiGig chip sets are being tested and evaluated by a number of equipment manufacturers, and WiGig-enabled devices are expected to start showing up later this year in notebooks and tablets.  Mark Grodzinsky, VP of marketing for Wilocity (supplier of WiGig chips), envisions one application
"You can imagine an Ultrabook that you put on your desk, and you've got a dock that`s got connections to high-performance storage and a high-definition monitor."
Ali Sadri, head of the WiGig Alliance and Director of Intel's Mobile Wireless Group, also sees major benefits in using WiGig to complement WiFi for companies and other organizations.
"They can say: `All of the infrastructure access technologies are going to be 2.4 or 5 Gig. All of the peer-to-peer (P2P) applications and display applications will go over WiGig... I think there`s a huge opportunity for IT to clean up the mess, perhaps even disallowing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz from being used for P2P applications."
Another possible application for WiGig's high speeds is the transmission of high bandwidth applications, such as HDTV, or even 3-D 1080p HD video.  In testing by Panasonic, WiGig was able to transfer a compressed 30-minute HD video in about 10 seconds.  This opens the way for wireless connectivity of TV sets and related devices.

On the video production end, other technologies are being developed to use the 60MHz band for HD and 3-D HD signals to be transmitted over longer distances (up to 500 meters).  The GigaLink HD system offered by Renaissance Electronics and subsidiary HXI is designed specifically for the HD and 3D-HD motion picture, television, and broadcast industries.  The system can transmit uncompressed raw HD video at 1.485 Gbps with a range of about 500 meters.  A dual-channel model transmit signals from two independent HD cameras, or a single 3-D HD raw feed, in perfect synchronization.
  The potential on the production side is tremendous - live ENG without the need to string cables back to the truck, placing HD cameras in remote locations, enabling camera movement without having to worry about dragging cables.
  For those of you wondering why GigaLink HD has a 500 meter range while WiGig has a 5 meter range - the main reason is power.  WiGig needs to be light and be able to rely on tablet or laptop power supplies.  The increased power needs for GigaLink HD result in transmitters and receivers that weigh about 11 pounds each, which is clearly not optimal (or even viable) for mobile consumer devices.

What these both suggest is that the higher speeds available in the higher frequency bands (like the 60MHz band) are enabling greater use of wireless systems for HD video, and whatever new standards emerge.

Sources -  WiGig: More than WiFi on Steroids,  Digital Producer Magazine
High Bandwidth Wireless for HD and 3D/HD Digital Video Cameras,  Audio Video Producer

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