Intel pours VC cash into Digital Home

Look mum, no wires

Intel's venture investment arm, Intel Capital, has made four investments in companies developing technologies for the digital home, including two firms involved with ultra-wide band (UWB). Terms were undisclosed

Ultra-wide band is like Bluetooth on steroids. The wireless technology can transmit digital data over a wide spectrum of frequency bands with very low power. A digital video recorder could, for instance, wirelessly send digital content from a digital TV. "All wires in the room, except for the power cord, should be eliminated," Intel CTO Patrick Gelsinger told reporters at the Intel Developer Forum in Barcelona this week. "However, when you do that you can't rely on existing technologies such as Wi-Fi. It would take all my Wi-Fi bandwidth just to do an uncompressed data stream."

Last year, Intel ditched plans to introduce competing standards for ultra wideband and opted instead to merge their ideas into a single proposal to the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It is now working on products and chipsets. Gelsinger expects the first applications to be on the market next year.

The two UWB investments are Staccato Communications and Wisair. Staccato is a fabless semiconductor company in San Diego, developing the first UWB silicon in all-CMOS to enable low-cost, high data rate wireless connectivity for emerging wireless USB and wireless 1394 applications.

Wisair, based in Tel Aviv, develops solutions based on UWB technology for high performance wireless communication. The company has a chipset that enables the implementation of low cost, low power and high bit-rate communications modules and system solutions for the fast-emerging home and office connectivity market. The company recently announced its first multiband OFDM-compliant UWB radio frequency transceiver chip.

Intel Capital has also pumped money into Digital 5, a consumer electronics networking firm, and Trymedia Systems, a secure distribution technology and services provider. All investments were made through the firm's $200m Digital Home Fund. ®

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