The end of the lead – a wireless world

I remember when I purchased my first mobile phone and thinking “this is the future” – I was certainly right! It is hard to believe the technological revolution that has surrounded the mobile phone. Wireless technology now has a variety of applications, from a wireless keyboard in your home to the Wi-Fi network in a school or business. It is also being used across a breadth of industries, from hospitality to healthcare.

wireless-wifi

The cloud was quickly adopted around the world as a successful method of storing data and providing us with a way to wirelessly transmit information. It also means that we don’t have to rely on USB sticks or external hard-drives, which are vulnerable to damage and easy to lose.

WiGig is a particular piece of wireless technology that has caught my eye. The WiGig can wirelessly send and receive data more than 10 times faster than a Wi-Fi connection. Also known as 60-gigahertz, prominent computing firms including Apple, Microsoft and Sony have discreetly been working on the technology for years. There are a growing number of WiGig products available but I anticipate that soon we will see an explosion of products in the market.

WiGig carries data much faster than Wi-Fi because its higher frequency radio signal can be used to encode more information. The maximum speed of a wireless channel using the current 60-gigahertz protocol is a maximum of seven gigabits per second. In comparison, the most advanced Wi-Fi protocol in use today transmits at five megahertz via a single channel, at a rate of 433 megabits per second. The majority of Wi-Fi networks use less sophisticated technology that functions at an even slower rate, so it is clear to see that WiGig will revolutionise the way we transfer information.

The demand for high definition video in particular is likely to drive demand for WiGig technology. Using WiGig in mobile phones and television set-top boxes will make it easier to stream content from mobile devices to high definition TVs or upload it to the internet. The American wireless telecommunications company, Qualcomm, has calculated that its WiGig technology will allow the transfer of a full-length HD movie in only three minutes. Qualcomm are set to release a tablet built with a 60-gigahertz wireless chip that can be used to transfer video wirelessly.

Intel is another company developing their own WiGig technology. In April, Dell started shipping the Dell Wireless Dock which pairs with the Dell Latitude laptop built with WiGig chips. The Dock allows laptop users to connect with multiple monitors, keyboards, hard drives and printers, all wirelessly. This transforms a cramped laptop into a fully-equipped work station without having to use multiple cables. As with most technology, it is clear that 60-gigahertz technology will soon become cheap enough for it to be accessible on a global scale.

However, there is one issue preventing the progression of WiGig: its signals are blocked by walls and large objects, meaning that devices on the network have to be in the same room. In this respect it offers little progression from standard Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology.

The Internet of Things is becoming an increasingly publicised concept where everyday objects are connected through a network, allowing them to send and receive data, for example a computer being connected to a wireless printer. Samsung has developed its own implementation of The Internet of Things and WiGig, and they have pledged to connect everything it sells to the Internet within five years. WiGig technology will be appearing in Samsung’s mobile, health-care, and smart home products.

We can’t leave out Google, which has recently teamed up with the London Zoo, specialist equipment providers MediaTek and 6Harmonics to trial a TV-focused White Space network which can stream live video of the Zoo’s various animals to YouTube. They are hoping to use the wireless technology in the future for London Zoo to help monitor and protect endangered animals in the wild.

Although there are some developments that need to be made to the technology, the transition to a wireless world is well underway. I look forward to the day when technology sheds its limiting cables, enabling the user to use it in a more natural and organic fashion.

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