Ruckus RIOT Targets Homes

By Eric Griffith

December 12, 2005

Forget the office — this new program will increase interoperability for Wi-Fi in consumer products, especially in the entertainment center.

Ruckus Wireless (formerly Video54) has a major stake in making sure Wi-Fi takes off in the home, considering that it makes smart antennas that are meant for spreading wireless signals for use with video and voice. But company communications director David Callisch said they didn't see anyone focusing on making sure such products are fully interoperable. So they started a RIOT.

The name stands for  Ruckus Interoperability and Open Testing. Callisch says, "we're basically opening the program up to consumer electronics companies that have an IP enabled capability — mostly set-top boxes and PVR companies that want to add value to products." That value, of course, is wireless.  "Just having any wireless technology inside, relative to video, doesn't cut it. As most have found out." Testing is done in a house setup in the San Francisco Bay area.  

He's quick to point out this isn't interoperability testing like that from the Wi-Fi Alliance, which tests at a much more granule level. Nor do participants get a seal to put on their boxes. "We're looking at higher level issues... we want to address the collision between consumer electronics and consumer networks."

Callisch says, "If a vendor wants to tell customers that they work with wireless as it works with video, we can give them a report [on how well they do.]"

Ruckus believes that most people have given up on ever using wireless at home for multimedia distribution due to it's unpredictability. Callisch says that the company's technology and now its testing will turn that around.

The first companies to join in the free testing from RIOT include Advanced Digital Broadcast, Amino, i3 micro technology (i3), entone Technologies, Telsey Telecommunications, and Sling Media.  It's open to anyone — the companies don't have to be Ruckus customers.

Sling Media, makers of the much hyped Slingbox that lets you watch your own TV from anywhere if you have an Internet connection, says that even the slower 802.11b has the capacity to handle the TV stream it uses. "The key thing is reliability — the throughput is there, but we want the reliability so when customers buy it and it detects a signal, there's no headaches," says Jeremy Toeman, the vice present of market development for Sling. "Plug in a VCR and it just works — you can't always say that about wireless."

"We believe wireless is the distribution of choice in the home — [but only] when we can provide it predictably," says Callisch. "We think Wi-Fi is the perfect method for delivery."

Originally published on .

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