One element common to all the major trends at CES this year, from 3D TVs, to tablets to the super phones, were the wireless capabilities of these devices. A range of wireless technologies have matured, with open frequency radio and Wi-Fi being the most used. Bluetooth and infra-red took a back seat, as they do not offer the bandwidth for some of the applications. Around our homes, and in our pockets, we interface with a number of devices, PMPs, cameras, netbooks, television, and even the GPS devices in our vehicles. Manufacturers have begun to exploit the applications of wireless technologies only now, and we can expect to see a lot of these devices communicating to each other using invisible channels.
One buzzword that emerged was WHDI (Wireless Home Digital Interface), which is a network of communication through which devices such as PMPs, Camcorders, and Laptops can interface with the televisions and home theatre set ups in a home. LG, Westinghouse and Celeno, all television manufacturers, showcased a range of products that could catch video content in a wireless manner. Celeno’s demo installation involved a common box through which media content was streamed to a number of television screens in and around the house.
Almost everyone already owns an HDTV, which is why the real numbers were seen in devices that acted as middlemen between a source of video content, as in the internet or a HTPC, and the television. Belkin had a range of switches that could stream wireless content from say a laptop, to a small attachment to the television itself. These switches had USB ports as well, if that was necessary. Belkin was one of the few manufacturers that could support 1080p video streaming, the best that most of the rest could do was stream at either a 1080i resolution, or at 720p. Intel used a technology called WiDi (Wireless Display), to stream across HD content through laptops which used their core i5 and i7 processors. Roku, Boxee and Kula were all services that connected directly to the internet for video content, delivered in a range of ways. Mediaroom 2.0 by Microsoft lets you save multimedia, stream to televisions, transfer the content wirelessly to PMPs, and even access the content over the cloud if necessary.
Cydle’s Mobile TV i30 works the other way around by streaming television content to a mobile phone over Wi-Fi. Most of the technology discussed so far, were ideas thrown around in the previous CES events, but never really implemented. Toshiba has already started shipping some of Intels WiDi laptops, but the best bit is wireless spreading to some unconventional devices, for some pretty spectacular applications.
Right on top has to be Canon’s incorporation of wireless technology into its top end EOS range of dSLR cameras. The capabilities of these wireless enabled cameras are pretty useful for both the enthusiast and the professional. Photos at events can be remotely saved to a computer, instead of locally, which allows for faster printing and distribution. In a studio environment, up to 10 cameras can be synced and fired together, allowing for precise multiple-angle shots. When paired with GPS devices, the location can be written into the EXIF data of the image while it is being saved.
Verizon was at the forefront of utilizing wireless technologies on a larger scale. Applications included surveillance from a number of cameras, gaming, and converting individual mobile phones into Wi-Fi hotspots for internet access. The Palm Pre Plus and the Palm Pixi Plus, are two market ready phones that can be used as Wi-Fi hotspots over Verizon’s 3G network. The logic of receivers for televisions applies to portable devices as well, and the innovation has come through the memory sticks used in devices such as mobile phones, PMPs and cameras. Eye-Fi, released some time before the CES, received the international CES innovations design and engineering award. The cards are regular memory sticks, which also allow you to transfer data to computers, or upload them directly to the internet. Sony’s TransferJet technology works on similar lines that transfer data wirelessly, as soon as the host computer is detected on a network.
- Amimon: Developer of HD wireless streaming technology. Large companies such as LG use Amimon modules for their devices.
- WHDI: A wireless high definition standard developed by a consortium including Amimon, Hitachi, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and LG Electronics.
- WiDi: Intel’s wireless solution for viewing HD content from a PC or a laptop on television, involves a receiver box connected to the HDTV.
- 1080p: Pure 1080 lines of image information, also known as True HD, is similar to the industry standard 2K resolution for recording, the entire frame is sent as once, which requires a higher bandwidth when it comes to wireless transmission.
- 1080i: Interlaced 1080 lines of image information, the image is sent in parts over wireless, requiring a lesser bandwidth.