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USB without wires

USB without wires

USB is becoming a standard feature not just for personal computer equipment, but for other consumer electronics as well; video cameras, digital cameras, robot toys, and other gadgets are all sprouting USB ports. But wiring all this stuff up is leaving us with a rat's nest of cables.

There are a few ways to solve this problem. Bluetooth or Wi-Fi can be used for cable-replacement duties, but both have their limits (low speed for the former; complexity and expense for the latter). So Intel and the WiMedia Alliance are rearchitecting USB to make it wireless. Freescale is taking a different route, making chips that send existing USB-standard signals over the air. The company's Cable-Free USB technology will appear first in a Belkin wireless USB hub--plug a dongle into your PC or laptop, and it will connect to any USB device via the hub.

The Freescale solution may be short-lived, since Intel and the standards-based WiMedia spec will doubtless get strong-armed into many new devices, but devices based on Freescale will arrive before WiMedia, which rolls out with Vista. For a peek at a product using Freescale's technology, see Belkin's new Cable-Free USB hub.