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VCs pump $7.5m into Bluetooth killer (wannabe)

Wi-Fi Panning

Ozmo Devices, the low-power Wi-Fi specialist, thinks wireless Ethernet is the perfect way to run a mouse, and has drummed up $7.5m in Series C funding to make this happen.

The money is coming from existing investors, who have already poured almost $23m into the dream of using Wi-Fi to connect everything from mice to keyboards - despite the growing ubiquity of alternative technologies and the inability of the Wi-Fi standard to support such applications.

We first covered Ozmo's attempts to squeeze Wi-Fi into patently unsuitable applications in June last year, and noted that the company's efforts were entirely dependent on Intel's Cliffside technology which will allow computers to connect to more than one Wi-Fi network at a time. We asked Ozmo's co-founder Roel Peeters what the company has been doing for the last 12 months, and while he stopped short of blaming Intel, hetalk about the problems of working with "big partners" and the company's complete dependence on Cliffside.

But that's in the past, and Roel tells us to expect laptops supporting Cliffside, and Ozmo, early next year, with peripherals to follow soon afterwards. Those laptops will probably also support Bluetooth, and many users will make do with the keyboard and trackpad of the laptop, so convincing peripheral manufacturers to licence the technology won't be easy even if Ozmo can get a standard for low-powered Wi-Fi approved.

Ozmo can't wait on the glacial procedures of the IEEE for such a standard, so it is working on the "Wi-Fi Personal Area Network" within the Wi-Fi Alliance where things happen a little faster, but probably not fast enough. If Ozmo could have launched a year ago then perhaps there was a market for mice and keyboards with Wi-Fi. But these days it's hard to imagine proprietary and Bluetooth-based technologies being displaced, even if Ozmo's promises of hugely-extended battery life hold up. ®

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