Ultra Wide Band - Another "standards" headache

The Ultra Wide Band (UWB) standard has reached what seems to be a rather tough obstacle. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the regulating body of the industry, has abandoned the hope of reaching a consensus and chose to dissolve itself on Sunday 15th January instead.

The two remaining camps vying for control of Ultra Wide Band are the WiMedia alliance (with Microsoft and Intel) and the UWB Forum (Motorola, Samsung and Sony).

In a scenario that is not dissimilar from what we've seen in the past (Blu-ray vs HD DVD, Betamax vs VHS), the two competing technologies are working against the interest of the consumer, and will do nothing but create uncertainty and doubt over such an inspiring technology, and slow its adoption.

Derived from technology patented more than sixty years ago, UWB has a very low power consumption, can go through walls, has no frequency constraints and can handle very large data throughput – possibly several hundred megabits per second.

Viewed by some as the equivalent to a universal communication panacea, UWB looked like it had a bright future but the failure to reach agreement does cast a shadow over developments.

UWB is the most likely candidate to compete with Zigbee to replace WiFi, Bluetooth and Wired USB, and much more in the long run as Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN) gain popularity thanks to iPods and mobile phones.