Monday, October 09, 2006

More PANdemonium

Lots of news bits about short-range wireless technologies flying around this morning.

The bad news is Aura Communications apparently closed its doors quietly back in May, although one source says its magnetic induction technology suitable for music streaming was acquired by someone. Dear blog readers, if you know more about this please tack up a comment or email me at

On the good news front, the IEEE announced today a draft standard for a Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS) physical layer dubbed 802.15.4a. “The new standard targets applications such as Real Time Location Systems, industrial control, sensor networking and medical devices,” according to a release from Nanotron Technologies GmbH (Berlin) which backed the effort.

Nanotron makes pre-standard chips today that offer data rates of up to 2 Mbps at 10mW over 900 meters (outdoors) and 60 meters (indoors) without an external power amplifier. The final standard is expected to be published in March 2007, about the time compliant products hit.

It will be interesting to see how CSS competes with existing efforts like Bluetooth and Zigbee as well as last week’s new low-power PAN entrant from Nokia, Wibree (see posts below). In his Nearpoints blog this week, consultant Craig Mathias will say both Bluetooth and Wibree are geared “for infrequent, low-duty-cycle transfers, so power consumption alone doesn’t really make me want to run out and buy WiBree.”

Bluetooth backers will design dual-mode BT/Wibree chips as well as standalone Wibree chips for low cost devices like watches and toys, so some of the needed consolidation of PANs appears built into the concept. Thank God! –rbm

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