Thursday, January 10, 2008

HP on UWB, TV and cellular

I had a chance to meet Phil McKinney, chief technologist of Hewlett-Packard’s personal systems group on the show floor of CES. Here are some quick outtakes from our talk:

HP plans to experiment with wireless USB this year, probably in just a couple products and focusing on external dongles. McKinney is a big believer in W-USB, in part, due to its good penetration characteristics, but he sees 2008 as a trial year for the technology.

On another front, Cable Labs, Microsoft and others are still struggling through problems delivering a two-way Cable Card for PCs using Windows Media PC software. McKinney said engineers are now exploring an option of using the Internet as the back channel for requesting video-on-demand and other interactive services for PC/TV systems.

That’s a logical move since the Media Center PCs are geared to be on the Net, typically over Wi-Fi. But how all this pans out with the cable TV roll out of their new interactive services remains to be seen.

HP still has an active cellphone business that grew out of its iPaq handheld businesses. One of the big challenges is getting integrated multi-mode RF chips to reduce the size and power consumption of the devices.

Security is also an issue preventing businesses from rolling out mobile apps on cellphones. As many as 10,000 handsets a month are left in cabs in Chicago alone, McKinney claimed. That drove HP to acquire Bitfone for its over-the-air software update technology which HP has upgraded so it can also remotely erase any data on a lost handset.

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