Making a big showing at WinHEC this year is the notion of wireless USB. Consider this all-too-common scenario: You have a home network, and you bring your laptop home from work to finish up a Microsoft Word document. You mostly use your home network for sharing the Internet, but frustratingly, you can't just finish up your document and print it immediately. You have to send it to your home email address, save the document to your home computer, and print from there. Wireless USB is one solution to that common problem, giving you a generic docking station through which to connect printers and other peripherals, and immediately print that document. “You can walk in with any PC and get automatically connected,” said Mike Krell of Alereon, whom I interviewed on Wednesday afternoon at WinHEC.
Alereon’s 4-Port Device Wire Adapter hub (due in June or July) gives you a wireless USB hub with four ports on the back, into which you can plug other devices. “Mobility is key to the wireless USB solution,” said Krell. “You now have the ability to move all your devices around with total freedom, all thanks to the ubiquitous USB port. And Alereon’s solutions have the highest radio speed on the market.”
Wireless USB technology from the USB Implementer’s Forum promises to bring wireless connectivity to a broad range of consumer electronics, mobile products, and PC peripherals, but you don’t have to wait for the next generation to realize the benefits of wireless USB technology. Alereon’s Wireless USB 4-Port Device Wire Adapter hub reference design provides four high-speed USB connections for use with any existing USB peripheral. Since the upstream connection is wireless, the hub can be placed anywhere in an average room without needing a USB wire connecting back to the host PC. Simply plug a compatible Certified Wireless USB host adapter into the host PC and any device plugged into the remote hub will be instantly connected.
Use of a wireless connection can eliminate the clutter that inevitably surrounds the typical PC. For instance, with the Alereon Wireless USB hub, you can move your printer, fax, or USB disk drive across the room and free up space on your desk. For mobile users, wireless USB can provide a virtual dock, instantly connecting all of your existing USB peripherals when you enter the room. Alereon’s Wireless USB 4-Port Device Wire Adapter hub reference design is compatible with any Certified Wireless USB PC or host adapter. SDIO, ExpressCard, USB or Cardbus host adapter solutions using Alereon’s physical layer chipset are available from a number of suppliers.
How about another business application of the solution? How often have you entered a conference room, intending to quickly set the projector for the presentation on your laptop, only to find the cabling and connection procedure needlessly complex and time-consuming? With wireless USB, you can hook up laptops, mobile devices, and BlackBerry devices immediately. The solution guarantees industry-standard interoperability.
The killer wireless-USB app is the ability to quickly and easily send data or media from device to device. Imagine taking a photo with your camera and sending it immediately to your buddy’s mobile phone. Alereon’s MAC/BBP Wireless-on-the-Go capability enables device-to-device file sharing without a PC. “Peer-to-peer sharing is incredibly easy,” said Krell.
Now for an overview of the nitty-gritty. Alereon’s highly integrated AL4000 Wireless USB Chipset provides the software, digital logic, and RF transceiver required to implement a complete, simple, and robust Certified Wireless USB product. The company’s solution was designed to excel in embedded applications, such as handheld and mobile products where space and power consumption are at a premium. The Alereon RF transceiver (AL4100) utilizes the proven technology of SiGe BiCMOS processing, along with advanced design techniques to provide superior noise figures and linearity across the entire 3.1Ghz-to-4.7GHz spectrum. This results in superior link performance particularly in noisy environments such as those found in handheld devices or personal computers. The Alereon MAC/BBP (AL4300) is fabricated in a TSMC proven and qualified 130nm process. Advanced digital signal processing coupled with Alereon’s high-precision data converters work to enhance the RF transceiver’s performance and enable correct signal recovery at longer distances and in noisier environments.
For more information, check out Alereon’s Web site.