Sunday, January 28, 2007
Some leading electronics manufacturers have recently announced that they will form the Wireless HD Consortium. The Wireless HD Consortium is made up of NEC Corporation, Sony, LG Electronics Incorporated, Matsushita (Panasonic), and Toshiba; along with a newcomer dedicated almost exclusively to wireless technology: SiBEAM.
The goal is to create wireless technology that can be used to manufacture devices that can transmit high definition video using electromagnetic waves with the same quality as over cables. The idea is that there is an ever increasing number of home entertainment products ranging from high definition receivers and video gaming platforms to old fashioned VCR's and stereo equipment, all of which need to be attached to the television. The result is an inconvenient "spaghetti" of wires and cables which, in addition to being unsightly, make it difficult to keep track of what is what. The Wireless HD Consortium believes that it can eliminate- or at least help consumers hide- this hideous mess.
The Wireless HD Consortium has the goal of making the wireless technology able to send a high quality high definition signal thirty two feet across the same room as the receiving television. The picture would also have to be the same quality as the original signal before it was converted into wireless mode.
Although the Wireless HD Consortium hopes to develop wireless High Def video technology that can be built into a variety of devices including camcorders, High Def DVD players, and of course the High Definition Television sets themselves; adapters will be available for older equipment. For older equipment an adapter would probably send the signals of various devices to a receiving unit on the HD Television set itself. That way all of the sending equipment like the receiver, the High Definition DVD player, and possibly even a video game console could be hidden in a cabinet somewhere while the actual television set has a clean and elegantly uncluttered look on the other side of the room.
Of course the Wireless HD Consortium isn't the first outfit to make an attempt to send high definition video over a wireless network. A few months back, Steve Jobs of Apple bragged about the "iTV" which supposedly would be able to send High Definition video over a wireless network. Others have also been working on doing similar things. Mobile telephone service providers are already sending television signals over their networks so that people can watch TV on their mobile phones. There's even been talk of watching high definition television on mobile phones although that's obviously a ways off.
The major stumbling block that anyone attempted to transmit high definition video over a wireless network is the tendency of a wireless network to "drop frames." When a wireless network is overwhelmed by the amount of data going through it, it's not uncommon for discreet data packets to go missing. Because of the way information is transmitted over any king of network, the receiving device can recognize when an individual data packet has gone missing and ask for a replacement for that specific data packet. Once the data packet is received, the receiving device incorporates it into the whole as if the error never happened. The problem with this is that, due to the rapid speed of video, any dropped frames are going to be missed by the person viewing the video and there simply isn't time for the receiving device to ask for a replacement before putting it into the finished product.
In any case, we probably can't expect any wireless HD technology on the market before 2008. After that maybe they can start working on eliminating power cords!