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Picture This: The New Format War?

Aug 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

Competition over wireless HD technology.


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Competing wireless HD technologies may have found their match with Amimon’s Wireless Home Digital Interface, which is supported by Hitachi, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony.

Competing wireless HD technologies may have found their match with Amimon’s Wireless Home Digital Interface, which is supported by Hitachi, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony.

At CES this past January, there were several companies talking about wireless HD video. And why not? The advantages are clear: Fewer cables in the home, office, or public spaces makes for easier physical display placement, more efficient installation, and a cleaner appearance. Indeed, wireless high-definition video would likely have been at the top of the list of “next big things” coming out of CES had it not also been promised the year before.

There are, of course, competing technologies for wireless HD — WirelessHD, Ultra-wideband (UWB), etc. — and, as in any good format war, competing patent holders hoping to cash in on that next big thing. But false starts and unmet delivery timetables over the last couple of years have not allowed any to come forward as a realistic leading contender. However, a recent announcement by a new group of vendors may.

Amimon, the inventor and proponent of Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI), has been joined by major manufacturers Hitachi, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony to announce the formation of a special interest group charged with creating an industry standard around WHDI technology. Interestingly, many of those companies are already promoters and adopters of the WirelessHD consortium, and their willingness to support WHDI — at least with this standards initiative — is a good sign that they are not digging in their heels for a Blu-ray-versus-HD DVD-type wireless format war. More importantly, it's a sign that the industry sees the big picture of how big a thing wireless might be and it is acting to make it happen.

Known as the WHDI Special Interest Group (SIG), this new collection of companies hopes to have the standard specification framework in place by the end of 2008. If this deadline is met, that could make compliant products — or at least demonstrations of them — a possibility for next year's Consumer Electronics Show, with interoperable products ready perhaps as early as next fall. Naturally, that is a best-case scenario; real-world results rarely match such planned timetables.

Nonetheless, the announcement does take a big step in the right direction. While Amimon has — like the other wireless technology initiatives — had a few delays moving from demonstration to production, one of the company's biggest challenges in the marketplace may have been the fact that WHDI has been a proprietary, and guarded, technology. With technologies patents now in hand, Amimon is able to be more open with its intellectual property and to accept input from others in an effort to create a standard method of operation and integration for WHDI.



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