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CE giants punt wireless rival to HDMI

WiHD to tread on Wi-Fi toes too?

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Six big-name consumer electronics companies have come together to thrash out a wireless alternative to the HDMI cabling standard that may also tread on the toes of next-generation Wi-Fi technology.

The WirelessHD specification is described as a "high-speed wireless, multi-gigabit technology in the unlicensed 60GHz band [with] smart antenna technology to overcome line-of-sight constraints", co-founders Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, NEC, Toshiba and SiBEAM said. Connections will be secure to keep content safe from duplication, and while the technology will be capable of supporting uncompressed HD video and audio, it will also host device-control data.

Initial versions of the WiHD specification will support data rates of 2-5Gbps, but the technology will be capable of pushing 20Gbps, the founders said.

The consortium's members want to get a spec in place by Spring 2007, at which point companies will be able to build modules to allow their HD TVs, DVD players, Blu-ray Disc machines, HD DVD units, DVRs, camcorders etc to beam content back and forth.

Right now, the focus is very much "wireless display connectivity", as the WiHD group puts it. That's exactly what HDMI is about, albeit in a wired context. The founders didn't indicate the technology's range, but there's surely the potential for streaming from, say, a player to a screen in another room. If WiHD can do that, it stands as a rival to 802.11n Wi-Fi. ®

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