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Sony rallies chums round proprietary standard

Hands up who wants TransferJet! Anyone?

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Sony has been telling anyone who will listen that its personal variant of Ultra Wide Band is the way of the future, and at CES has convinced Toshiba to go public and join with various camera manufacturers in endorsing the "standard".

TransferJet is developed and owned by Sony, but at CES it has been Toshiba demonstrating devices while Sony promotes the TransferJet Consortium with a relaunched website (still not working, despite being officially launched in July with promises of open specifications) and claims that the standard is being developed by "major camera makers", as though someone asked for another UWB protocol.

Ultra Wide Band (UWB) enables huge data rates over tiny distances: generally 10cm or so, with data rates around 400Mb/sec. There are two mainstream standards: WiMedia for peer-to-peer stuff, which will form part of Bluetooth 3.0, and Wireless USB for star-formation with a central hub, which is already on sale. Into this mix comes TransferJet, which is just like WiMedia only with a much shorter range and patents owned by Sony.

Shorter range is no bad thing - usage models involve things being touched together so a centimetre is perfectly acceptable, but the decision not to just ratchet down the power on a WiMedia chip is difficult to explain without resorting to protectionism.

Sony probably has the power to force such a standard, by embedding TransferJet into TVs, laptops and cameras they could probably force acceptance by market muscle alone - but despite the company announcing 70 products at CES not a single one of them sports the UWB technology, which bodes rather badly.

It gets worse when one considers that the Toshiba laptop sporting TransferJet has been around for months - for private demonstrations - and the company isn't admitting any details of forthcoming products enabled with TransferJet.

So what we really have is a new website, still not operational, and an increasingly desperate research team at Sony with a technology no one wants. ®

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