The Commercial Market

Ultra Wideband Can Find Relief from CE Industry

According to ABI, ultra wideband (UWB), a wireless technology based on modulated pulses of energy, stands to capture technology market share over the next several years in a variety of applications, especially the distribution of wireless video, audio and data, in-home and consumer networking devices. The lack of a standard is the single biggest shortfall to the development of a sustainable UWB market. "The FCC has spent over two years of extensive testing to devise a guide for the use of UWB," explains Edward A. Rerisi, director of research at ABI. "Until a standard is set where all communications segments are satisfied, this technology will experience resistance."

ABI's report, "Ultra Wideband Wireless - An Evaluation of Technology Prospects and Potential Market Applications," examines if UWB will be the next generation in wireless communications, for diverse applications including wireless LANs and radar. The total global shipments for UWB-enabled electronics and chipsets could reach 45.1 million units by 2007, with resulting revenues of $1.39 B by the end of that year. Projections include shipments to market segments including communications, imaging, vehicles, locators and military/government use. Forecasts are provided for twenty different market segments and the activities of and analyses for over 25 market participants are also provided.

The rosiest prospect for wide scale deployment of UWB exists with the consumer electronics (CE) industry. The concept of sending data, video and audio content wirelessly seems to be the near term future of networking information and distributed computing. "Wired networking is cost prohibitive when compared to that of wireless solutions," explains Vamsi Sistla, senior analyst and author of ABI's report, "Entertainment Networking ICs." Already low and decreasing cost of WiFi implementation gear and deployment are some of the main drivers of WiFi technologies. According to ABI forecasts, UWB chipset shipment growth for video and host device applications will more than double in the years 2005 and 2006, from 1.5 million UWB IC shipments in the year 2004 to 3.4 million UWB IC shipments in the year 2005 and to 7.7 million UWB IC shipments in the year 2007.

ABI's report, "Entertainment Networking ICs," addresses the present and future of home networking ICs in the CE industry. The technologies covered in the study include 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g, other hybrid wireless technologies enabling WLAN home entertainment, UWB and Powerline (HomePlug 1.0 and others) communications. ABI presents quantitative forecasts for the world market for each "no wire" technology, including IC shipments from 2002 to 2008, ASP and revenue. A clear analysis of the networking technologies is presented with detailed forecasts and market trends in the chip sector. In addition, many of the chipmaker companies have been profiled with detailed analyses of their technology offerings and future roadmaps.

Wal-Mart Leading the Way with RFID

These are exciting times in the world of RFID. There has been a lot of media attention in the retail sector surrounding the Wal-Mart announcement at the recent Retail Systems conference in Chicago. In case you missed it, Wal-Mart announced its commitment to RFID, while also stating it will be requiring pallet-level and carton-level tagging by the end of 2006 for their top 100 suppliers. Linda Dillman, CIO of Wal-Mart, made the announcement in a presentation before a standing room only audience. Dillman's remarks included some very positive statements about the potential of RFID in the retail supply chain, and many benefits derived from in-store, on-the-shelf use of RFID. At the distribution level, she outlined many of the challenges that Wal-Mart faces on a daily basis, and described how RFID can greatly assist its inventory planning, allow faster demand response, provide a more accurate accounting of inventory, while also increasing efficiency. In the retail store, Ms. Dillman stated that item-level tagging is a bit off in the future, but her vision of how RFID can be beneficial in the store included a reduction of out-of-stock conditions, better in-store product tracking, loss prevention, and ultimately (although still off in the future), self check-out.

Even with all the great expectations that RFID brings to the retail sector, Ms. Dillman explained that there were still a lot of obstacles to overcome, including tag performance, reader form factors and performance, infrastructure and data management - not to mention tag and reader pricing. Still her speech was a huge endorsement of RFID technology, and by setting a date in the future, she challenged both manufacturers of RFID products and Wal-Mart suppliers to aim at the target.

TI 802.11g Products Adopted as Key Elements of the Wi-Fi Alliance Testing

WLAN solutions from Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) have become a key part of the Wi-Fi Alliance's 802.11g testing program now used to certify interoperability of Wi-Fi products meeting the recently approved IEEE 802.11g standard amendment. All products submitted for 802.11g Wi-Fi certification will be tested against TI's TNETW1130-based reference designs. Additionally, these reference designs have been chosen as the sole component in the certification program to test mechanisms used to ensure interoperability in 802.11b and 802.11g mixed-mode networks. In conjunction with being adopted in the Wi-Fi Alliance 802.11g test plan, TI's products are among the first to have been Wi-Fi certified for interoperability with other 802.11g products.

TI's TNETW1130 device implements the protection mechanisms specified in the 802.11g standard that allows for interoperability of new and faster 802.11g products together with legacy 802.11b products, sharing the same 2.4 GHz spectrum. Without such protection mechanisms, legacy 802.11b products would interfere with, and be interfered by 802.11g products, resulting in a lower overall network throughput. Due to these mechanisms, consumers with 802.11g Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ devices can be assured that they will be able to enjoy the higher data rates of 802.11g with as little penalty as possible for sharing the network with 802.11b devices.

"TI has focused on providing 802.11g products with superior interoperability and high performance mixed-mode operation to deliver on the promise of 802.11g to be completely backward compatible with legacy 802.11b devices. This focus on interoperability has resulted in TI's products being used by the Wi-Fi Alliance for overall 802.11g testing," said Marc Cetto, general manager of TI's Wireless Networking Business Unit.

The TNETW1130 fully complies with the IEEE 802.11g standard amendment and is already shipping to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) worldwide, now that the standard has been approved. Additionally, all of TI's 802.11b products implement the 802.11g protection mechanisms and are fully interoperable with 802.11g products.

Telephony Only the Beginning for Bluetooth in Vehicles

Nearly 20 percent of all vehicles worldwide will contain embedded Bluetooth hardware by 2007, according to the findings of a new ABI study. Future Bluetooth-based automotive applications are poised to deliver new opportunities to all facets of the industry. Bluetooth silicon costs run approximately $6, making the technology extremely attractive to automakers and ABI predicts costs will continue to fall. Beside costs, the key automotive driver is Bluetooth proliferation into an increasing number of mobile handsets. Just recently, Sprint announced the first CDMA phone to feature Bluetooth connectivity. While the first wave of Bluetooth devices in the vehicle will center around telephony, newer applications will soon follow. These include remote vehicle diagnostics, lower cost telematicsservices, advanced automobile safety systems, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and remote audio and video downloads into the vehicle among others.