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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.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.