Israeli company first to launch UWB chipset

Wisair’s UWB chipset enables low cost, low power, and high bit-rate communication modules and system solutions for the fast emerging home/office connectivity for video/audio and data applications.Have you ever imagined a world in which there is no need to hook …

Wisair’s UWB chipset enables low cost, low power, and high bit-rate communication modules and system solutions for the fast emerging home/office connectivity for video/audio and data applications.Have you ever imagined a world in which there is no need to hook up your many multimedia devices – multiple computers, televisions, DVD and audio players – with endless cables that meander throughout your home?

Soon, thanks to Israel’s Wisair, you will be able to connect one device to another in a user-friendly manner, thereby greatly improving the quality of life of every aficionado of home cinema, digital photography, and various other gadgets.

The growing number of digital devices and broadband services are creating new connectivity needs, including a need to support the transfer of high bandwidth multi-media content.

The technology that is supposed to make this happen is UWB (ultra wide band), designed for use with every new multimedia system, linking them all on a very wide band

Wireless home connectivity solutions will eliminate the rat’s nest of wires required, and provide portability and mobility. Among the 40-50 mostly American companies currently active in the UWB sector, Wisair has become an industry leader by developing a UWB chipset. In April, Wisair launched its first multiband transceiver chip for UWB applications, demonstrating the chipset at the Intel Developer’s Forum (IDF) in Japan to enthusiastic response.

Wisair’s technology is an enabling element for those applications requiring high throughput, such as video streaming to digital TV, DVDs and Set Top Boxes. Other applications include fast downloads of rich content – camera to PC, home gateway to portable device etc, where all the devices operate with the extremely low power consumption of the Wisair’s chipset.

Wisair’s UWB chipset enables low cost, low power, and high bit-rate communication modules and system solutions for the fast emerging home/office connectivity for video/audio and data applications. This chipset will be installed in a wide variety of appliances such as DVDs, PDAs, TVs, camcorders, digital cameras and more.

Wisair was founded in June 2001 by David Yaish, the company’s CEO, and the Zisapel brothers, and is part of the RAD group, a group of 15 independent companies based in Israel, and operating worldwide. The companies develop, produce and market product solutions for diverse segments of the networking and telecommunications industries from their headquarters in Ramat Hahayal in Tel Aviv.

In addition to the great technological challenge to become the market leader against its U.S. competitors, Wisair is at the forefront of meeting the challenge to create an industry standard.

“Together with Intel, Royal Philips Electronics and other companies, we established a group to try to build a coalition to create a common standard. 120 companies are now members of the Multiband OFDM Alliance (MBOA), including some of the largest semiconductor manufacturers, as well as UWB start-ups,” Yaish told Globes.

At the same time, though, Motorola has founded a countervailing group to MBOA, which is trying to establish a different industry standard more suited to Motorola’s needs.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is responsible for deciding on a universal standard, has been unable to do so because of opposition from Motorola and its allies. MBOA member companies have therefore been working to establish a separate standard, and Yaish hopes that this effort will be enough to dictate an global standard that the IEEE will subsequently adopt.

The battle has delayed commercial UWB development, to the benefit of competing technologies. The fundamental difference between UWB and other wireless technologies, and one that gives UWB an edge, is its huge bandwidth at low cost. Nevertheless, the gaps between UWB and the other technologies, especially Wi-Fi, are narrowing, since they are already expanding the bandwidth offered, and their market penetration is growing, whereas UWB is not yet on the market.

“The delay has been costly for UWB companies, but we needed time anyway to develop products. To become leaders, we have to be first to launch products. This is very important, and we’re achieving the mission so far,” said Yaish.

The applications Wisair is referring to are designed to replace the familiar USB port with a wireless USB port. “The market quantities could be huge. 400 million USB products were sold last year alone. The potential is immense.”
Then there is voice and video wireless transmission. At the same time, UWB’s fundamental purpose is to become the standard wireless link between audio and video devices. Later, Yaish believes that UWB will be integrated into wireless devices, when they become a more common multimedia platform.

Two U.S. start-ups, Alereon and Staccato Communications, are also developing UWB chipsets. “We have a substantial lead over these companies, and we intend to keep it,” says Yaish.

Wisair has cooperation agreements with Intel and NEC to develop wireless USB. It collaborates with Philips in the entertainment sector. Wisair plans to be launch its prototype this year, and believes that the first UWB-capable devices will be on the market by the end of 2005.

(Based on a report in Globes)