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Wireless USB
by rob

Are you tired of all the USB cables cluttering your desktop? Do you ever wish you could have your USB devices further than 6 feet away? Are you tired of plugging and unplugging multiple USB devices? Today I'll introduce you to a new technology that is solving these problems and more: Wireless USB.

As its name would imply, Wireless USB (sometimes abbreviated as WUSB) is a way to connect peripherals without wires. Its aim is to reduce the clutter of cables around computers that connect things like printers, digital cameras, storage devices, and other USB devices.

Wireless USB is built around an ultra-wideband (UWB) radio system, a short-range, high-bandwith wireless technology that runs on a frequency range of 3.1 to 10.6GHz. This range does not use the same 2.4GHz frequency as 802.11b/g networks, some cordless phones, microwaves, baby monitors and Bluetooth devices. This frequency separation reduces the interference from other equipment. The bandwith (up to 480 Mbit/s at 9 feet, and up to 110 Mbit/s at 30 feet) is sufficient for high-bandwidth applications like streaming HD video.

Wireless USB might sound a little like Bluetooth and a little like a wireless network, but there are some distinct differences. 802.11g is a multi-user networking application, whereas Wireless USB is for data transfers between private devices. Bluetooth is for private data transfers, but only for small amounts of data. The real standout feature is that Wireless USB has a much higher bandwidth (faster data transfer) than either Bluetooth or 802.11g.

Technology Feature Comparison
  Wireless USB Wired USB 2.0 Bluetooth Wireless 802.11g
Max. Range 9 feet / 30 feet 15 feet 30 feet 115 feet
Max. Bandwidth 480 Mbit/s / 110 Mbit/s 480 Mbit/s 2.1 Mbit/s 54 Mbit/s
Frequency 3.1 - 10.6 GHz n/a 2.4GHz 2.4GHz

Imagine this scenario: You're on the couch with your laptop and you want to pull photos from an external hard drive and print them on your printer. If you didn't have special wireless networked versions of these devices, you would have go to the hard drive and printer to connect the USB cables to accomplish this task. With Wireless USB, you can access any paired devices with ease.

D-Link Systems Wireless USB Starter Kit
D-Link Systems Wireless USB Starter Kit

You might say, "I don't want to replace all of my USB devices with wireless ones." You don't have to. Today you can get a wireless USB hub that you can place near your devices just like a wired hub, only now you can cut the cord between the hub and your computer. The D-Link Systems Wireless USB Starter Kit and the Wireless USB 2.0 Ultra-Wideband 4-port Hub & Adapter from IOGear include a Wireless USB adapter to plug into your computer and a hub to place near your USB devices. After setup, you can print, scan, and transfer files as fast as if everything was connected by wires.

As with any wireless technology, there is the question about the security of data being sent through the air. Wireless USB requires you to pair a device with a computer before use (similar to Bluetooth) and uses several layers of encryption to protect data.

The application of Wireless USB doesn't stop with just hard drives and printers. Imagine a completely wireless desktop using a wireless keyboard, mouse and even a monitor.The possibilities are huge. With all of us getting used to wireless freedom from cell phones to networks, we're sure to see computers with it built-in Wireless USB and more Wireless USB devices in the future.

Shop
D-Link Systems Wireless USB Starter Kit
IOGear Wireless USB 2.0 Ultra-Wideband 4-port Hub & Adapter

Reference
USB Implementers Forum
Everything USB

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