Focus Introduces Talaria

By Jeff Goldman

November 17, 2005

The UWB company is trying to stay true to its video roots while also supporting the Wireless USB direction taken by the WiMedia Alliance.

Focus Enhancements recently introduced a new brand name, Talaria, for its ultrawideband (UWB) technology — and also announced the planned release of the Talaria UWB evaluation system. The name Talaria is a reference to the winged sandals worn by the fleet-footed messenger Hermes in Greek mythology — just as Focus' UWB system is intended to quickly deliver information over longer distances.

In addition to the fact that Focus is now taking orders for its evaluation system, the announcement is a demonstration of the company's pride in its offering, says Mike Kelly, Focus' Vice President of Marketing. "We have enough confidence and excitement about our technology to brand it," he says. "We've given a tremendous amount of thought and engineering brainpower into leveraging ultrawideband."

Kelly says Talaria reaches beyond the WiMedia Alliance's approach to the technology, which he says was a little limited for Focus' needs. "They chose a solution which we believe was not as aggressive in its attempt to capture the available energy, and therefore less capable of doing the kinds of things that we wanted to do," he says. "So we took a bold approach."

That approach, Kelly says, involved embracing standardization and interoperability within the WiMedia Alliance while also working to push the technology's limits. "We decided to build a product that was 100 percent interoperable and capable of doing all of the things that WiMedia standards do, and also able to use a technology which we bring to the table that will let the user go longer in distance and faster in speed," he says.

That product is what Focus is now calling Talaria. "We do the short Wireless USB kind of applications, which we think are very, very important — but we didn't abandon our video roots," Kelly says. "We exploited the technology that we brought to the table by incorporating it also into the chipset for ultrawideband."

Kelly says the evaluation kits, which will are expected to be available around the New Year, will include all the tools required to set up and monitor a test network. "You can do data logging and monitoring and measure the bit rate, as you move it from room to room or as you leave it set up over time and have people walking around, to characterize the environmental effects and how robust you're going to be in varying circumstances," he says.

The kits will also have a mini-PCI card built into them, which could be used in, say, a set-top box to explore end users' real product requirements. "What we're trying to do with this kit is to provide for the three prongs of an evaluation process," Kelly says. "Does it work, does it work under the environmental circumstances that I want it to work in, and can I built a product with it?"

While Focus is targeting a wide range of applications, Kelly says Wireless USB is the application that's likely to draw the most attention to UWB in the short term. "It's going to address a whole host of applications that currently are wired — data-passing algorithms for PDAs and cell phones and printers and cameras and stuff like that — and that's going to be a pretty important market driver for the uptake of ultrawideband," he says.

Meanwhile, Focus is working hard on reaching beyond Wireless USB to carve a niche as the enabler of media distribution in the home. "People want to be able to stream video, they want to be able to distribute massive amounts of data like a video stream, with high levels of robustness, through areas that go beyond just cutting the cable from the equipment rack to the TV set," Kelly says. "That's the marketplace that we've become enamored with."

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