Focus Enhancements Announces UWB Timeline

By Jeff Goldman

September 09, 2005

The plan: have high-speed wireless -- 880Mbps -- available for consumer electronics and media PCs by early 2006.

This week, Focus Enhancements set forward its ultrawideband (UWB) product timeline, targeting release of ultrawideband (UWB) evaluation kits towards the end of year with the intention of seeing products in the marketplace in early 2006.

“We’ll be taping out the chip, which is a combined MAC/baseband chip, in September,” says Tom Hamilton, General Manager of the Focus Enhancements Semiconductor Group.

According to Hamilton, the company’s aim in working with UWB is to optimize wireless media distribution in the home. “We’ve got technology that we’re demonstrating that shows our ability to transmit multiple HD streams through walls and over distance,” he says.

For the end user, Hamilton says, that means being able to send a program from a TiVo or a similar device located, say, in your living room, to a media player in your bedroom – and being able to do that with a streaming interface. This is a solution that the company first demonstrated earlier this year, and is planning to deliver in evaluation kits within the next few months.

With competing ultrawideband companies also working towards releasing products as soon as possible, Hamilton says Focus’ key strength lies in its performance. “What we’re announcing is not just support for MBOA, but support for substantially better performance on top of that,” he says. “We can go much further and much faster. We go up to 880 Mbps, and we can do HD out to 20 meters through walls.”

Mike Kelly, Focus’s Vice President of Marketing, says competition, of course, is a good thing for the industry in general. “It shows that people are finally making reality, instead of PowerPoint slides,” he says. “We’ve heard a lot of talk, and we’ve seen a lot of hand-waving from the entire marketplace – and now, finally, people are starting to get this stuff together.”

Because Focus is targeting video rather than simple data applications, Kelly says, the company’s target has always been higher performance. “We put a much stronger magnifying glass on the technology, and internally demanded much more out of it so that we could reach the targets we wanted to,” he says. “We were more demanding because of the video-centric applications we were targeting.”

Other companies developing ultrawideband solutions, Kelly says, are generally targeting lower performance metrics. “We’ve seen a lot of folks looking toward implementations of ultrawideband for Wireless USB type applications,” he says. “While we feel that’s a very honorable goal, it’s not really what we started out to do. So what I see is a bunch of different WiMedia products coming out that are going to address and meet a whole host of different market opportunities and requirements.”

Hamilton admits that Focus is frustrated not to be releasing products sooner, but he says competing companies’ race to be first to market is driven by a startup mentality. Instead, he says, Focus has tried to ensure that the products it develops are ready for market. “We didn’t go through the intermediate stages of making throwaway spins of silicon,” he says. “We wanted to produce product that produces revenue – what we need to make is a product that people can buy.”

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