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Wireless HD Solutions Vie For Acceptance

3/26/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK – An increasingly popular trend in U.S. households
over the past several years has been to network big
screen TVs and home entertainment systems with mobile
PCs, tablets, smartphones and televisions located in other
areas of the home.

The easiest way to accomplish
this in most settings is wirelessly,
but current 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
technology lacks the bandwidth
for robust, uncompressed Full
HD 1080p video and high-resolution
gaming, particularly in
settings where multiple streams
may be running at one time.

The ideal solution would easily
relay uncompressed (or losslessly
compressed) HD content
stored on new generation tablets
and smartphones to TV screens,
and to store digital content on
devices that act as central servers,
enabling remote TVs to access
that content from other
locations through the use of thin-client boxes or digital playback
devices linked over wired and/or wireless networks.

Since 2007, a number of approaches have been developed
to provide faster speeds and lower latency (lagging)
issues. But the high cost of these approaches, low awareness
and confusion over the field of competitors has limited
broad-scale adoption to date.

The current contenders include: WirelessHD, Wireless
Home Digital Interface (WHDI) and WiGig, among the
uncompressed/lightly compressed Full HD approaches,
and Intel’s WiDi (aka Wi-Fi Display), as a compressed alternative.

Speaking at a recent DisplaySearch
Flat Panel Display Forum, Brian
O’Rourke, NPD/In-Stat digital entertainment
research director, said
to succeed long-term the uncompressed
systems will need accelerate
their adoption rates within the next
two years.

The following is a look at where
each approach stands today:

WirelessHD (WiHD), now in its
fourth generation, is being championed
by Silicon Image (the driving
force behind the ubiquitous wired
HDMI standard) as a wireless HDMI
alternative for linking source devices
and TV displays together in spaces
were wires are difficult.

This approach allows delivery of
wireless high-definition audio and video signal transmissions
using 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi in the home while also
running a WiHD connection. The standard was finalized
in January 2008 by a consortium of companies headed
by SiBEAM (later acquired by Silicon Image), including
Broadcam, Intel, LG, Panasonic, NEC, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, among others. In 2012 the original seven
member companies have opened up into something
called the Wireless HDMI Forum, which now lists
close to 50 companies.

The WirelessHD (WiHD) standard is based on the
7Gbps of continuous bandwidth using 60GHz radio
frequency and allowing for uncompressed, digital
transmission of FullHD video, audio and data signals.
This makes it an equivalent to HDMI, offering in its first
generation high data rates from 4Gbps.

The band requires line of sight between transmitter
and receiver, but can extend its range using transmitter
antennas.

The standard has somewhat limited range. It was
developed more as an in-room technology than a
whole-home network technology. Uses to date have
focused mainly on PCs and notebooks, but it is available
via adapters to CE devices as well. The future for
the technology will depend on getting more embedded
WirelessHD CE solutions to build on the success
it has achieved in the PC segment.


Wireless Home Digital Interface
(WHDI) also
calls for short range applications to replace cables between
video sources and televisions. Core technology
backers include Motorola and Amimon.

The WHDI standard supports delivery of high-quality,
uncompressed wireless audio/video signals at data
rates up to 3Gbps in a 40MHz channel in the 5GHz
unlicensed band. System range exceeds 100 feet
through walls.

The focus is on personal electronics and computer
applications, and is primarily available through external
adapter solutions. Applications to date have been
in vertical segments, including endoscopic and other
medical video camera systems and in broadcast cameras.
It transmits uncompressed HD video wirelessly.

WiGig, meanwhile, is being championed by the
joined forces of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance and the
Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) to
develop a multi-gigabit wireless match for the Display-
Port v1.2 standard. The WiGig system is designed to
connect PCs, handhelds and other devices to monitors,
projectors and HDTVs, offering interoperability
and quality that is the equivalent of wired systems.

WiGig advocates use of a 60GHz wireless technology,
similar to Wireless HD. Data rates run up to
7Gbps. The mission of the format was to offer a broad
solution for CE devices, personal computers, personal
electronics and mobile phones.

In 2010, the WiGig Alliance announced a partnership
with the Wi-Fi Alliance to create a 60GHz wireless
classification now known as 802.11ad. This gave
WiGig increased visibility and credibility in the market.
The first target application of WiGig was in wireless
docking, which enabled data transmission from a
mobile PC to a wireless docking solution that, in-turn,
connects to all the PC peripherals on the desktop.
This way tablets, PCs and ultrabooks can be made
smaller and smaller without the size of a wired port
becoming an issue.

Mark Grodzinsky, marketing VP for WiGig supporter
Wilocity, said the spec is designed to offer different
transports for different uses. “It’s not one-size-fits-all,”
he said, adding that workspace enablement may be
best served with a direct-to-patch wireless video approach,
sending a display signal over I/O video ports.
Where there is the need for networked video, such as
the home, multiple devices can connect to the TV using
H.264 encoding and decoding over Wi-Fi.

“We can take Wi-Fi Display, which does H.264 and
5GHz, with high compression and latency and then we
can expand that to 6GHz, which is an amendment to
the Wi-Fi spec,” said Grodzinsky, “so, I don’t think of it
as WiGig or Wi-Fi – WiGig is Wi-Fi.”

In-Stat’s O’Rourke predicted that among the uncompressed
solutions through 2015, WiGig will have
the lion’s share of the market, because multiple silicon
vendors will be adopting the technology. WiGig, as a
party to the Wi-Fi specification, also has significant
credibility among the large volume manufacturers.

WiDi was first introduced by Intel, at the 2010 International
CES to simplify the connection of a PC to a
video display without the hassle of connecting HDMI
cables. Now being standardized as Wi-Fi Display, the
technology is based off the underlying WiFi Direct
technology that enables peer-to-peer wireless connections.
It is built into a laptop to transmit a signal
to a receiver/adapter connected to the HDMI port on
an HD display. Software in the laptop pairs with the receiver.

The end-to-end system uses compression, requiring
video capture, encoding and transmission and
introduces issues with latency issues (and possible
packet loss).

Intel has launched two generations of the WiDi,
and the format has been adopted by PC OEMs. It is
essentially a software solution on top of a Wi-Fi chip
and uses Intel’s Wi-Fi Direct standard for connected
two Wi-Fi devices directly without the need of an access
point.

The use case is to connect mobile PCs with televisions.
The specification will be published around the
middle of the year with devices expected by the end
of the year.

The big advantage it has is that it can piggyback off
of the success of Wi-Fi. If the device does not have
HD encoding or decoding, you will have to add that at
an additional price. All together, it can add up to 2.5
times the cost of Wi-Fi solution.

O’Rourke said he expects Wi-Fi Display to be highly
successful technology because it “builds on technology
that is already in the products.”

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