Wireless networking without paying The Man, man
Slow, short range, incompatible ... but it's pure
So you want wireless networking, but you don’t want to hand over patent fees and licence money to the nasty megacorporations?
Qi Hardware, the company responsible for the Ben Nanonote, has created a USB dongle offering wireless networking on open-sourced hardware conforming to the 6LoWPAN standard from as little as £25 assuming you can get driver software and don't mind being unable to talk to anyone else.
6LoWPAN isn't as fast as Wi-Fi, or as ubiquitous as Bluetooth, but it is free from royalty payments. The hardware being sold by Tux Brain is open sourced in that all the schematics and design specifications are freely available - something the company behind the design claims would be impossible with Wi-Fi or similar.
To drive that hardware Qi will provide a 6LoWPAN driver for the Nanonote or Linux box, but has also managed to connect it to a Linux Zigbee stack. Zigbee is free for non-commercial use, but that makes it incompatible with the GPL so the hardware isn't named as being Zigbee compatible.
Neither is it guaranteed to be free from patent infringements - the wireless business is so awash with patents that it's hard to imagine something like this doesn't infringe on a few of them - but by using open standards Qi reckons it's playing as safe as one can.
That gives you connection speeds around 250Kb/sec and a range of up to 10m, though 2Mb/sec is apparently possible over very short ranges.
Qi has created cheap hardware, using an off-the-shelf AVR microcontroller, which can be modified and easily integrated into bigger projects. But the price of that is compatibility with the rest of the world - unless (or until) the rest of the world can be convinced to adopt the 6LoWPAN standard. ®
@XMAN ... wooshhhh
XMAN, you've totally missed the reason for this technology. Its for hardware hackers who are making their own open source wireless comms, its not a cheap mass produced wifi style dongle!.
From the article "Qi has created cheap hardware, using an off-the-shelf AVR microcontroller, which can be modified and easily integrated into bigger projects."
Kind of missing the point
6LoWPAN is intended for a different set of applications than wifi - low power, low bandwidth uses such as home automation or smart metering. One example mooted was that each individual light bulb (probably LED lamp) could have an IPv6 address to allow it to be controlled directly via a home automation system.
Seem to remember a similarly public network standard
Which was also totally unencumbered by patents, had the most liberal of copyrights and was initially adopted by a small bunch of geeks and hobbyists. Seem to remember they called it TCP/IP or the Internet or something like that. Wonder whatever happened to it ? Can't imagine that without corporate IP lawyers buzzing all over it like flies round a turd it would have got very far.