Cable-Cutting WiHD Spec Finalized

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New York — The WirelessHD consortium has finalized specifications for its in-room cable-replacement WirelessHD (WiHD) technology, promoted as the only cable-replacement technology that delivers uncompressed copy-protected high-definition video up to 1080p with no signal loss.

At press time, it wasn’t certain whether and of the consortium’s seven founding members would demonstrate the technology. The founders are LG, Panasonic, NEC, chipmaker SiBeam, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. Intel is also a member.

Although other HDMI-cable-cutting technologies have been demonstrated, almost all of them use lossy compression techniques, said John Marshall, chairman of the WirelessHD Consortium and cofounder of wireless chipmaker SiBEAM. A competing proprietary technology that uses no compression nonetheless reduces color and luminance because of its narrower bandwidth, he contended. “We are the only wireless solution promoting uncompressed, no-loss high-definition video, including 1080p,”he said.

WiHD is able to transmit uncompressed video with no loss because its data rate hits 4Gbps at 33 feet, more than enough to deliver an uncompressed 1080p signal, which requires 3Gbps of bandwidth, Marshall said. WirelessHD also supports two simultaneous 1080i streams, multiple 480p streams, and one 1080i stream simultaneous with one 480p stream, the consortium said.

WiHD, dubbed a wireless video area network (WVAN) technology, is intended to eliminate unsightly A/V cable connections to flat-screen HDTVs and to reduce component clutter. Devices such as satellite and cable set-top boxes, DVRs and DVD players, for example, could be located in less conspicuous areas of a room or behind closed A/V-cabinet doors. WiHD would also allow for wireless transfers from video cameras to DVRs and DVD recorders, and in home theater audio components, it would support up to 13.1 channels of 192kHz/24-bit losslessly compressed Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, the group said. WiHD also supports 5.1 channels of uncompressed 96kHz/24-bit PCM audio.

The consortium’s next step is to develop a compliance-testing program to verify interoperability of WiHD-equipped devices. The program should be finalized by June or July, Marshall said. Products that pass the interoperability tests will bear the consortium’s WiHD logo.

The first approved products will likely be HDMI adapters and component-video adapters that can be plugged into A/V components and TV sets, followed by A/V products with embedded WiHD, Marshall said without offering a timetable.

The technology is content-industry-approved because it delivers uncompressed video, which is more difficult to copy, and because it operates in the unlicensed 60GHz band, Marshall stressed. In that band, oxygen rapidly attenuates the signal, limiting practical use to in-room applications, and 60Ghz signals don’t penetrate exterior walls easily, he explained. For an extra measure of security, WiHD also incorporates HDMI’s DTCP (Digital Transmission Content Protection) technology available from the Digital Transmission License Administrator (DTLA) organization.

For simplicity of use, the technology incorporates HDMI-CEC, which coordinates the operation of HDMI-CEC devices regardless of brand, and automatic discovery and recognition of WiHD devices within range, Marshall said.

The technology, which is based on OFDM (orthogonol frequency-division multiplexing), is superior to 3.1-10.6HGz ultrawideband (UWB) solutions because UWB data rates run only up to a “couple hundred Mbps,” requiring compression for HDTV transmission, Marshall said.

During International CES, held in Las Vegas next week, the consortium is meeting off-site with vendors on an invite-only basis, while founding members demo the technology on the show floor.


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