Certified Wireless USB -How much do you know?
Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 | Author: Grace

Certified Wireless USB – the most significant change to USB itself besides SuperSpeed USB 3.0 – takes the world’s best known interface into the wireless world. It promises plug and play simplicity without wires, but new hardware, or wireless adapters, will be required.cable-free-usb-hub1

Certified Wireless USB is the natural evolution and extension of the ubiquitous Universal Serial Bus (USB) protocol, first introduced in 1994. Since its introduction, USB has become the de facto standard in the personal computing industry, with billions of devices in use around the world.

Wireless USB is designed for optimal performance when the devices are less than 10 meters (33 ft) away from the computer. Although speeds of up to 480 Mbps are advertised, this is a theoretical maximum.

 Wireless USB work

At the heart of a wireless USB system is the radio and antenna system. Certified Wireless USB employs a wireless technology called Ultra-wideband (UWB), which operates in the frequency range of 3.1 to 10.6 GHz. (For reference, 802.11 Wi-Fi networks are commonly operating at 2.4 GHz, the same frequency as some cordless phones, microwave ovens, and Bluetooth devices). One of the key advantages to a UWB system is the low power consumption (great for portable devices) and wide frequency spectrum of operation.

UWB is actually not a new technology – it was invented in the 1960s primarily for military use in secure communications and ground-penetrating radars. Mainly a technology developed under classified US government programs, UWB now enjoys much more research and development attention without classification restrictions.wimedia-logo

The ultra-wideband radio system employed by Certified Wireless USB is different from other wireless technologies on the market because it spreads data transmission over a very wide frequency spectrum in the form of brief, low-power pulses.

In short, this allows the wireless system to avoid transmission at troublesome frequencies, such as the 5 GHz range (802.11a, some cordless phones). The orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) scheme, developed by the WiMedia Alliance and selected as the exclusive radio platform for Certified Wireless USB, allows the bit rate and signal strength of each carrier to adapt so that good channels get used more than those that hamper transmission.
 
Computer Systems support

In a nutshell, all major computer operating systems are planned to support wireless USB. However, at the moment, wireless USB functionality is provided only by proprietary software drivers and is largely device-specific.

Over the past few years, several alternate “flavors” of wireless USB have been developed, none of which play any significant role in the market today.
 
The future hold for WUSB and the competing standards

The first such flavor was released by Cypress Semiconductor in 2003 and is technically the only version that can be called WirelessUSB [tm] because it is trademarked. It is a very low-speed, limited “variant” of USB that was primarily targeted as a replacement for Bluetooth.

The second flavor was pioneered by Freescale Semiconductor (formerly a division of Motorola, Inc.), trademarked “CableFree USB”, and promoted by the UWB Forum and its partners. This variant used an ultra-wideband radio technology called direct sequence (DS-UWB) and its main advantage was that it was built on top of the USB 2.0 protocol in use today.

True competition for Certified Wireless USB will come primarily from Bluetooth and IEEE 802.11n (the latest and fastest variant of Wi-Fi).

Bluetooth became popular primarily for low-speed short-range personal area communications and due to its extremely low cost of implementation. It uses the massively crowded 2.4 GHz radio frequency and currently is limited to a bluetooth2maximum datarate of about 2.1 Mbps. Knowing that the maximum throughput would need to be able to scale higher to ensure the future viability of Bluetooth, supporters of Bluetooth selected the OFDM-UWB radio platform for future integration with Bluetooth technology. This means that future versions of Bluetooth will use very much the same wireless technology as Certified Wireless USB, with similar high data rate capabilities for multimedia applications such as video streaming. It will certainly be very interesting to see how this plays out, and whether Bluetooth and Certified Wireless USB will be able to co-exist.

802.11n (and its predecessors 802.11g/b/a), are without question the standard in wireless networking. Originally developed to address the problem of deploying Local Area Networks (LANs) without cabling, it has truly changed the face of mobile computing and is supported by every major operating system, most gaming consoles, and many mobile devices and mobile phones. In its latest iteration, 802.11n, data rates in excess of 100 Mbps are achievable at a range of up to 30m or greater. Starting a few years ago, due to the lack of any other high-speed wireless protocol, many manufacturers of digital cameras and printers proceeded to install support for 802.11 usb1networking in order to achieve wireless data transfer. Certified Wireless USB would have been a more logical choice, but it was not ready and is still in its infancy.

WUSB products

Everything USB will be bringing you a new Wireless USB section soon. For now, here are the links to some Certified Wireless USB products on this site:

Cables Unlimited Wireless USB Adapter Set – A low-cost adapter that converts a single USB node to wireless
Imation Apollo WX WUSB Hard Drive – World’s first WUSB hard drive with auto-detect incremental backups
Kensington WUSB Dock for Notebooks – Wireless video, wireless USB audio – 15 feet of freedom
Samsung NaBee – Certified Wireless USB add-on for Samsung digital cameras
Samsung WUSB + USB 2.0 LD190X 19″ LCD – Power-saving Certified Wireless USB flat panel monitor
IOGear Wireless USB AV Kit – Adapter set capable of streaming both 720p to VGA and stereo sound to RCA
IOGear WUSB to VGA Kit – Display adapter for steaming HD (720p) within 30 feet radius
Belkin Wireless USB Hub – 4 port Wireless USB hub powered by WiQuest’s solution
D-Link Wireless USB Starter Kit – 4 port Wireless USB hub by WiQuest’s solution
Dell Inspiron 1720 – First laptop on the market integrated with Wireless USB
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 and T62p – First Lenovo’s laptop integrated with Wireless USB