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Wireless-USB advocate touts growing list of offerings

USB-IF has certified 45 products that are wireless USB capable. It said more are on the way, along with wireless USB 1.1.

MacBook Air wireless USB dongle
A MacBook Air can connect with a television and mouse via wireless USB. It's also connected to a hub and a keyboard.
Holly Jackson/CNET News

SAN FRANCISCO--Working on a Fujitsu Siemens laptop to cordlessly watch a film trailer on an Asus monitor across the room while listening to speakers controlled by a Realtek wireless USB dock, Jeff Ravencraft touted how USB lets many peripherals work wirelessly at once.

A year after the first wireless universal serial bus products started appearing on the market, more products with the cordless capability are coming to fruition. Juggling several gadgets at a downtown hotel here Thursday, Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum, wanted to demonstrate how the new technology can impact consumers.

His organization--founded by the group of companies that developed the Universal Serial Bus specification--works to certify wireless USB devices, and so far, 45 products--ranging from computers to hubs to monitors--have received the nonprofit's stamp of approval.

Ravencraft, who also works as a technology strategist at Intel, met with CNET News in advance of next week's Intel Developers Forum, where many wireless USB products will be demoed.

On some current computers, wireless USB can be supported by a dongle that plugs in to the machine, paired with a hub that holds the USB devices. Ravencraft's example was a MacBook Air, known to have only one USB 2.0 port. With a wireless USB dongle in place, the computer connected a wireless mouse, a keyboard, and a television.

Asus monitor with wireless USB capability
A standalone Asus monitor, with built-in wireless USB, becomes a wireless external desktop for laptops. Holly Jackson/CNET News

But USB-IF's goal for the next two years is to certify more "native hosts" and "native devices," like the Fujitsu Siemens laptop and an Asus monitor conversing wirelessly across a room, or a digital camera that can sit next to a PC to upload pictures.

Dell and Lenovo were among the first to release products to be wireless-USB certified, and both companies now sport multiple notebooks with the capability. Japan's NEC also produced a wireless USB-enabled Lavie G notebook.

As companies begin to get into wireless USB, USB-IF is also readying itself for the next phase. In the first half of 2009, the organization plans to releases specifications for wireless USB 1.1. Ravencraft said the updated system will be more power efficient, easier to use, and increase ultra wideband support for a more global market.