The Future Belongs to the Unwired

Whether it’s a cell phone that can download MP3 music files or a personal digital assistant that sends and receives e — mail messages, wireless technology is a feature cherished by most digital device users. This world of untethered communications is about to get better.

Consumers should expect to see the next generation of wireless devices enabled by Ultra — Wideband, a power — efficient radio technology that allows the transmission and sharing of information between devices in a high bandwith spectrum.

The UWB technology enables electronics such as personal computers, flat panel display televisions, and home entertainment systems to function wirelessly up to a range of 30 feet.

“It’s like Bluetooth on steroids,” says John Terry, Ph.D., president and CEO of Terry Consultants Inc., which specializes in supporting companies that develop and apply innovative wireless technologies. “UWB is a cheaper, low — power solution that will connect electronic devices more efficiently.” Terry predicts that the UWB technology will be used in a variety of ways that could include creating completely wireless homes and workplaces, designing sensors to help prevent auto accidents, or manufacturing radio — frequency merchandise tags that can be used to track and locate inventory.

Influential players in the consumer electronics market, such as Intel, are speeding the development of UWB in consumer electronic devices, from digital camcorders and DVD players to mobile PCs and HDTVs. Management consulting firm Arthur D. Little estimates that more than 10 million global customers could be using mobile broadband wireless technology by 2008.

Belkin CableFree USB Hub; $129.99
One of the first wireless products to use UWB is the Belkin CableFree USB Hub, which lets you connect peripherals to a PC without running wires to the computer. This hub allows people to place their laptop anywhere in the room while still maintaining wireless access to their USB devices, such as printers, scanners, hard drives, and MP3 players. Belkin says that its device, powered by Wisair’s Ultra — Wideband technology, transfers data up to 100 times faster than a Bluetooth connection.
Additional reporting by Marcia A. Reed — Woodard