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Wireless Networking Hardware

Cheap Wireless for Accessories 120

Posted by michael
from the wires-are-so-last-century dept.
morcheeba writes "Yet another wireless protocol for personal computers! In addition to existing 802.11 variants, bluetooth, and ultra-low-power newcomer zigbee, Cypress semiconductor is releasing a simple low latency, low cost (<$2), medium speed (200kbit/sec) protocol with USB human interface devices (HID) compatibility. Partners include Saitek (game controllers) and NMB (keyboards & mice). EETimes has an informative article."
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Cheap Wireless for Accessories

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  • Yet Another (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Derg (557233) <alex.nunley@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:06AM (#6673452) Journal
    Nail in the coffin of Bluetooth. *shrug* I'll believe it when I see it.. *cough*vapor*cough*
    • Re:Yet Another (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WARM3CH (662028) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:26AM (#6673505)
      I don't think so. Those mentioned protocols address different needs than Bluetooth. For example, Zigbee is targeted to those sensory applications that need to transfer data with a very low duty cycle. WirelessUSB tries to do what it's name suggests, replacing the cables in a USB connection. On the other hand, Bluetooth supports multiple transfer profiles. For many applications, it's serial profile excells as many developers are quite familiar with it and have used serial ports in PC or micros for years. Using it does not need you to write a complex software protocol stack like that of USB. You just get a sigle chip bluetooth solution, connect it to your micro's serial port and that's it!
      • Re:Yet Another (Score:2, Interesting)

        by GigsVT (208848)
        connect it to your micro's serial port and that's it!

        If you are lucky enough to still have one. Haven't you heard? System board people seem to think RS232 is depricated!
        • Re:Yet Another (Score:3, Informative)

          by WARM3CH (662028)
          RS232 is not equal to serial port! All micro-controllers that I know and most of DSP chips have at least one serial port. Now, it maybe a SPI interface, classical UART or USART or any other form but besides the wiring and hardware protocol, they are all serial ports! And from software point of view usually they are similar. RS232 was never used on the system board (who level shifts the TTL to RS232 and then after 2 centimeters again shifts it back to TTL?!). Bluetooth chipsets actually don't support RS232,
          • I actually did know all that. A misunderstanding was that when you said "micro" I assumed you meant "microcomputer" i.e. a PC. I didn't realize you meant microcontroler i.e. PIC or Amtel.
            • In all fairness, a microcomputer is not a PC. MicroVAX and AS/400 are examples of microcomputers. I guess if everyone else is nit-picking, so will I. :-)
        • If you are lucky enough to still have one. Haven't you heard? System board people seem to think RS232 is depricated!

          For 99% of people, it is (and has been for years).

  • Let's continue.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chexum (1498) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:07AM (#6673453) Homepage
    In other "news" [slashdot.org].
  • wifi home (Score:4, Funny)

    by SKPhoton (683703) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:19AM (#6673487) Homepage
    So you finish browsing slashdot, go to the bathroom and do your business. Your leave your wifi toiletseat up which makes your wifi alarm clock go off which wakes up your wife who gets angry at you and makes you go put the seat down.

    Your neighbor aims his pringles can at your home, starts up your electric toothbrush, turns on your living room tv, and starts printing random junk on your printer.

    Let's hope alarm system remotes don't include wifi as well!
    • by Phroggy (441) *
      Your neighbor aims his pringles can at your home, starts up your electric toothbrush, turns on your living room tv, and starts printing random junk on your printer.

      This is why you need a thick concrete firewall.
  • Wires suck, wireless rocks! Anything that will reduce the number of wires around computers and such is great. I just hope that there won't be too many standards, then the whole "standard" concept is lost in a way.
    • Wires suck, wireless rocks!

      Wireless rocks in particular if you want to have your little box 0wn3d. Or does wireless come with proper encryption/authentication these days? I tried building a wireless network at work one day, but it never worked because the goddamn WLAN cards wouldn't talk to each other with the "encryption" on.

    • I disagree, the wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many of them ;-)
    • wireless rocks Wireless rocks they have had those for years. My driveway was filled with wireless rocks.
  • Low cost? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jacco de Leeuw (4646) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:21AM (#6673492) Homepage
    low cost (<$2)

    That's what they said about Bluetooth too.

    And how much does a Bluetooth cost nowadays? $100? $200? That's absurd.

    • A Bluetooth headset for mobile phones, I meant.
    • Re:Low cost? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mccalli (323026) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:26AM (#6673508) Homepage
      And how much does a Bluetooth cost nowadays? $100? $200? That's absurd.

      If you're talking about buying some PC dongle at retail, then perhaps. But not the Bluetooth chipset.

      I use Bluetooth every day - I send SMS messages via my bluetooth-equipped Nokia 3650 by selecting a contact's name on my Powerbook and typing the message there. I also send pictures that I've taken with the phone over to the laptop, and synchronise address book changes. It works very well, and my phone certainly didn't cost me $200.

      Buying add-ons is always expensive. As the functionality makes its way into the chipset of standard boards then you'll see the computer side of things come down in cost. I know that all Apple laptops have bluetooth - I think that the new Centrino sets do too, don't they? Confirmation from a Centrino owner please?

      Cheers,
      Ian

      • Re:Low cost? (Score:3, Informative)

        by gl4ss (559668)
        3650 costs +300-400 without operator tie in/bundling(which is illegal here.). But still, worth the money, writing from one right now.
        • 3650 costs +300-400 without operator tie in/bundling(which is illegal here.)

          A fair point. However, the full cost of that phone isn't due to the bluetooth capability alone. For example, Microsoft make a bluetooth mouse [microsoft.com] which costs about 50 GBP, and that compares favourably to the non-bluetooth version which is 35 GBP.

          Cheers,
          Ian

      • Re:Low cost? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Phroggy (441) *
        I know that all Apple laptops have bluetooth

        Only the 12" and 17" PowerBook.

        The optional BlueTooth adapter Apple offers (for $50) with the 15" PowerBook is a D-Link USB adapter. Funny that they don't offer it as an option for the iBooks.

        An updated 15" PowerBook with built-in BlueTooth should be announced Real Soon Now(TM).
      • If you're talking about buying some PC dongle at retail, then perhaps. But not the Bluetooth chipset.

        Which is all very fine and well, but the retail price is the one that we all have to pay.

        If the retail price is high (which it is) then it's considered expensive. The price of the actual chipset to manufacturers means nothing to the man on the street - and in the case of bluetooth, has no bearing on the amount he/she pays to get it.

        It may be dirt cheap, but the manufacturers are fleecing us for the pri

      • You can't compare a phone with a computer, until they start bundling them with connection contracts and gouging money from you monthly as a standard.

        Do you really think the price of your Nokia 3650 was that in the price tag?

        Boy that's really basic. I thought nobody with a brain swallowed that one.
      • Centrino refers to a Pentium M processor, Intel approved wi-fi board and 855 chipset (optionally with a graphics controller).

        Bluetooth isn't part of the specification, though most brands include it in the higher models.

        Regards.

    • Usb dongles are around 40e at cheapest around here, while the main application seems to be phones. Just walk home and sync it..
    • I bought a Bluetooth USB dongle for something like 14 recently ($22), which includes VAT @ 17.5%. The cost of bluetooth parts was meant to be (IIRC) less than $5, so it seems to me that they must have pretty much hit that target.
  • The goal all along for 802.11 has been to be the 'universal' wireless protocol. It aims to provide a mid level service at a low end price, using its ubiquity to achieve economies of scale and come in at a lower price than competitors with lower specifications.

    Bluetooth has recently been killed by 802.11. (Insert images of John Cleese banging a parrot on a counter here.) The chips which make up an 802.11 device have always had a higher 'spec' than Bluetooth so Bluetooth was supposed to compete on price.

    • But, the question is, can I finally afford to put wireless on my thin clients? Until now, any wireless solution cost four times what my clients cost.
    • Bluetooth has recently been killed by 802.11.

      What a troll, and you actually managed to get moded up for it.

      No, bluetooth has not been kiiled off by 802.11... I don't know of 802.11 being used in a single product where bluetooth would otherwise be used.

      I have never seen an 802.11 keyboard, mouse, headphones/headset, cellphone, etc. There is plenty of room for bluetooth. It may not be taking off just yet, but it isn't dying, and it remains to be seen IF something else will killi it off eventually.

      • No, it is not a troll.

        It is fact that 802.11 chipsets are now cheaper than Bluetooth chipsets (and this event is recent).

        802.11 is targeted towards exactly the area which Bluetoth now occupies. All that was holding it back was the price of the chipset. Now that barrier is gone you will see 802.11 replacing Bluetooth in the next generation of products. I'm talking chipsets here, so it will take a short time to flow onto the consumer market.

        I've had pretty extensive discussions with one of the guys that

        • Does 802.11 yet do the stuff BT does in a standard way:

          - hidden node removal problem

          - convenient authentication (ie connect 2 devices once, use the connection securely after that)

          - encryption (ie, is there improved standard WEP yet?) - standard way to make HID devices (eg WLAN headsets for a mobile phones)

          For networking, 802.11 beats BT hands down. But for IR/cable replacment, WLAN has still a long way to go... But my info may not be up to date, feel free to correct me.

        • That is so much crap. 802.11 is NOT targetted towards the same space as BT. Show me a 802 keyboard, or mouse, or headset, or phone, etc. The power consumption is way too high, the session/discovery stuff isn't as good, and the range is too high (BT is made for PANs, if it reaches much more than a metre or so it's TOO FAR).

          It is fact that 802.11 chipsets are now cheaper than Bluetooth chipsets (and this event is recent).


          So what? A P4 costs more than an embedded dragonball, but how much sense does that c
          • > power consumption is way too high

            See my comments about power consumption in response to another poster (same thread).

            > the session/discovery stuff isn't as good,

            Just means that stuff has to live in the application layer.

            > if it reaches much more than a metre or so it's TOO FAR

            Then reduce the transmitted output power. There's nothing to say that 802.11 has to transmit with an output power of the order of 100mW.

            > It really doesn't matter what the inventor wanted 802

            Unless the inv

            • Let's approach this with a practical attitude and not a "Why us a waterhose to wash your car when you can use a firehose?!!" mentality.

              Regardless of the intentions the inventor has in respect to 802.11x technology there are some rather significant reasons that using 802.11b, g or a for keyboards and such just doesn't makes sense.

              Addressing
              ----------

              802.11x uses standard 802.3 addressing and is an extension of wired ethernet as such. Thus any 802.11x device will receive a standard IP address.

              Compare thi
        • What good is a 802.11 remote control? The batteries will run out in a matter of days or weeks, I'd imagine.

          I have a remote for my c-band satellite receiver that uses UHF.. it works anywhere in my house and the batteries last months. Much better solution, I'd say.

    • I don't think this technology will be seen off by 802.11 because it is pitching at a fundamentally different application and marketplace to that of Bluetooth.

      Reading some of the stuff on the site as I understand it thay are aiming it as much at industrial applications as the kind of wireless netwiorking applications we'd think of. In that context I'd say it would be more analagous to an I2C serial bus for low speed communications than the ethernet you'd use 802.11 for.

      You wouldnt use ZigBee(where on ear

      • > would you use 802.11 for a mouse or an RF keyfob for your car?

        That's where it is going in the future. Most people think of chipsets and WLANs when they think of 802.11, but among other things the future for it is 'embedded', where an 802.11 block is just a block in a larger on chip system.

        • You are dead right, 802.11 will become ubiquitous and thus will provide stiff competition for technologies like bluetooth.

          What sets this technology apart from the bluetooth/802.11 arena though is that it is not a technology quite like bluetooth so it isn't competing in quite the same marketplace. Instead it seems to offer a low data rate and duty cycle, likely to be targeted at rather lower tech applications.

          The chances are most of the devices that have it installed wont even say so on the pack. If you

    • The parent is an obvious troll, but for the clueless: power consumption is the big difference between 802.11 and Bluetooth. Low power 802.11 has been promised, but not yet delivered.

      • Yes, power consumption differs
        - as do security (bt frequency hops) and general topology (PAN vs. WAN) although that latter difference has decreased.
      • Are you talking about complete cards, or the core logic when you compare power consumption? The power consumption of the signal processing logic is small compared to the power consumed by the transmitter power amplifier. Consequently the power consumption doesn't really depend on whether the system is Bluetooth or 802.11.

        If a Bluetooth system has a lower power consumption, it's because it has a smaller power amplifier. Reduce the transmitted power of an 802.11 system nearer to that of a Bluetooth syste

  • Range??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dr.Flake (601029) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:28AM (#6673517)
    Skimming the links i didn't see anything concerning the range of this technology.

    If, as the story indicates, this is to connect pc's range is everything!

    But all i see is "common" peripherials nowadays connected by USB to be connected by USB without the wire thingy. (thus: add battery)

    Will it make a simple network connection to my friend 6 doors away or not? If not, it doesn't add anything to the things available now.
    • Re:Range??? (Score:4, Funny)

      by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @06:05AM (#6673604) Journal
      If not, it doesn't add anything to the things available now.

      You heard him guys... SHUT IT ALL DOWN, RIGHT NOW! A single slashdotter doesn't have a use for the product, so it must be immediately be winked out of existance. Thank you for your cooperation.
    • Why would you need that range in this protocoll?
      It isn't there to compete with 802.11a/b/g.
      It's there to connect devices with low bandwith requirements, let's say a mouse, to your computer. Do you usually use your mouse at the other end of the building?
      If you want a network connection, use a communication standard that's ment to be used as a network connector.
      If you want to connect your headset to your mobile phone, use something appropriate for that
      If you want to connect 5 thermometers spread out across yo
    • Re:Range??? (Score:2, Informative)

      by DukeyToo (681226)
      Range is 10 meters line of sight (although it does not need line of sight).

      That is much better than what I get with my Logitech wireless mouse/keyboard, with comparable battery life.
  • Hah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by FrostedWheat (172733) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:30AM (#6673522)
    You see folks, this is the great thing about standards. There are so many to choose from!
  • Now multiply by 1000 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gremlins (588904) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:35AM (#6673537)
    This is all just another way to screw us all. Think about it everything is going to get a computer chip so it can talk with everything else. Look at action figures, they used to be $6 now they got chips in them and cost $10. Soon your new clock costs $5 more and your lamp costs $3 more and your ipod costs $20 more and your toaster costs $10 more and etc. etc. etc. By the end of the year we shelling out thousands of dollars so my electric blanket can know my toast is done.
    • Vote with your dollars. Don't buy a wireless toaster. Buy one that communicates with your electric blanket via good old fashion CAT-5. Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be done.
  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @05:50AM (#6673570)
    Even a two-dollar protocol like this works at several hundred Kbps, when I have a network of computers at home, with enough MIPS to simulate El Nino, connected to the outside world through a 64k bit of electrical string. When it's dialled up. But that's telcos for you!
  • This looks like it could actually be a possible solution to my problem of wirelessly networking two PCs that are about 10 feet apart without using a wire. So far the cheapest solution I have found is to put two 802.11 NICs in ad-hoc mode, and thats just a tad too expensive (by about a factor of 10) for my tastes for such a simple problem
    • And there's also a difference in speed by a factor greater than 10 (depending on what 802.11 you go with).

      I obviously good enough for you, but I think 200 kbit/s is a tad slow for a lan.

    • Buy two cheap bluetooth dongles,30-40$/piece. Dongles for this wont be much cheaper than that anyways. Of course wifi isn't that much more expensive, but you can think of other uses for that bt too, like wireless kb/mice.
    • What's the nessecity for lack of wire? I mean, when you can buy two Ethernet cards that operate at 100Mbit/sec and 10 ft. of cable, all for $30 or less, why worry about wireless? Are they separated by a wall that you can't make a hole through? Why not just use more wire?
      • Yes. They are actually in seperate apartments. My downstairs neighbor is willing to share his broadband with me, *IF* I can get connected to it without running a wire through his walls and/or in his windows.
  • Finally... (Score:4, Funny)

    by faldore (221970) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @06:36AM (#6673677)
    With dirt cheap wireless commo, now they can start coming out with nifty devices like:

    Automobile Instant Messaging so I can tell the guy in front of me to get off my road.

    PDA Instant Messaging so I can pass notes in class and (anonymously) tell fellow bus riders that they smell like a rotten fish.

    Wireless Spam that jumps from device to device. (lovely!)

    Watches that receive text messages (like "Your flight is now boarding at gate B24, you have 2:13 minutes until takeoff") and perhaps can send back messages like "I'm running as fast as I can!!"

    These are the times that I wish I'd gotten an EE degree instead of CS.

    • Getting an EE degree won't solve all of your problems, shockingly.

      Does "CS" stand for "Computer Science" anymore? It seems a lot of kids have essentially graduated with "CounterStrike" degrees.
  • Another device that runs in 2.4 GHz to cause more interference with my cordless phone, WAP, and Xcam...
  • WirelessUSB's niche (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ryanwoodings (60314) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @07:05AM (#6673755) Homepage
    I am one of the main designers of WirelessUSB LS at Cypress and have been involved with in WirelessUSB R&D for almost a year. Let me clear up a few misconceptions about WirelessUSB LS (LS is the low speed version with data rates maxing at 64 kbps).
    It's main competition is 27 MHz proprietary technologies. It only overlaps Bluetooth in areas that Bluetooth is weak in the first place such as HID devices where Bluetooth has power management and latency issues.
    Currently WirelessUSB LS will be used in point-to-point connections that do not require standards-based protocols such as wireless mice, keyboards, gamepads, remote controls, garage door openers, etc. Does anyone care if their garage door opener uses an IEEE standard? :-)
    If your devices need to interoperate with one another or you need high data rates go with another technology, but if you just need a cheap, easy-to-use low speed, short range (sub 100m), point-to-point reliable wireless connection that will not interfere with Wi-Fi traffic and can handle co-location of hundreds of devices than WirelessUSB LS is the clear winner.
    • > Does anyone care if their garage door opener
      > uses an IEEE standard? :-)

      Well, yes, if it means (a) that I can buy a generic replacement transmitter from more than one company and (b) that I can control/monitor the door from other devices (PDA, cell phone, etc).

    • by slim (1652)
      Currently WirelessUSB LS will be used in point-to-point connections that do not require standards-based protocols such as wireless mice, keyboards, gamepads, remote controls, garage door openers, etc. Does anyone care if their garage door opener uses an IEEE standard? :-)

      s/IEEE/open/ and the answer becomes "yes". An open standard would be great for the consumer. It would mean, that any car manufacturer could build a wireless opener into the dash, which would work on any brand of door. Or maybe my mobile p
      • This is very true. People who build these sort of devices will almost certainly demand compliance with open standards. People who "couldn't care less" will care when the standard affects their privacy or security in some way. Standars make things easier. Mod parent up.
    • What's not clear to me is whether the sessions are encrypted, which would seem fairly essential.

      I was, BTW, trying to get exactly this a few months ago. I wanted a USB sound card attached to my stereo in the living room (I though the SliMP3 was a bit pricy) but didn't want to put cables or a computer there just for audio. Nobody seemed to sell the wireless equivalent of a USB hub.

      Shame the developer kits are $495.00... I'd be first in line.

      • Do you honestly believe 200Kbit/s is going to be enough bandwidth for a USB soundcard ( think USB 1.1 high-speed 12Mbit/s ) ?

        200Kbps is down in the range of low-speed USB. I severly doubt the application you envision is possible with that strangle point in your communication stream.
    • by ssclift (97988)

      Found the answer in the product brief. The chip set supports 128 bit encryption.

      Now I really want this... :-)

    • I'm developing embedded systems for retail/industrial environments. What we really need is a radio system that can support several hundred nodes per base station, with a solid 100m actual range in an indoor environment fill with metal shelving. (Ie., retail stores or warehouses.) 32-64 kbps is about right for this app. The kicker is that we need to get 1-2 years battery life out of the equivalent of 8 alkaline C-cells. Any ideas?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just want to buy something like an iPod that transmits digital audio... and for car stereos to have wireless audio receivers as STANDARD. So I can bung the MP3 player on the seat, drive off and listen over the speakers... not too much to ask is it?!

    We're not allowed FM micro transmitters in the UK, and digital has got to be better, right?

    Anything that plays audio should be able to send and receive wireless audio. Wake me up when the commercial world has caught up with my wishes. There just aren't ANY mo
    • Last night I was playing with Reason on my Powerbook. I had an Oxygen 8 MIDI controller plugged in to my USB port and I thought to myself "Damn, I sure wish I had a WIRELESS keyboard." Next day on /. -- wireless USB. Problem solved!

      It seems like this technology could be adapted, as the parent says, for wireless audio streaming. I sure as hell would love to stream 192kbps MP3s from my laptop to stereo. Save myself the hassle of stringing RCA extension cables all over the room.

  • Babelfish (Score:3, Funny)

    by filipvh (193450) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @07:20AM (#6673801)
    Soon, the development of our ultimate wireless accessory will be complete!

    The new Wireless Mate (tm), patent pending, a compact brick-sized device with a 10-pound battery and 1-foot antenna, will support Zigbee, WiFi (a, b and g), Bluetooth and Accessory wireless. Eight expansion slots will enable future wireless standards to be added for seamless integration.

    Enable your cellphone, PC and PDA to communicate seamlessly with Wireless Mate (tm), patent pending!

    Imagine the possibilities!

    Visit to www.products-you-never-knew-you'd-want.com and order now!
  • Cool! That's just what we need! What happened to wifi standards 0 to 810, anyway?
  • Ok, so Cypress is pushing this thing pretty hard. The FAE was here the other day handing out data sheets for this part when he was in for a different reason. But the deal is that the first version is really only 10 meter out of the box, or 100 meter if you add in an amplifier. Data rates on the first series are up to 250 kbit. And so far, this is not actually part of the USB standard, though they are trying to get it included in a future version of the standard. So do we really need another wireless protoco
    • Batteries in these would last 6 to 9 months...

      I guess that would be a pain though, having to stop playing EQ or StarWars just to replace the damn batteries, it's bad enough having to get up to empty out the urine bladder once a month, thank god for grocery delivery though... I'd have died long ago.

  • Question:

    Does anyone here know how to use any of the existing (new or old) RF protocols to send and receive a signal which is oversampled (in the time domain)?
    I have a hack I am working on, which I'd love to use one of these protocols for, since equipment is so nice and cheap. Is there something equivalent to the AT command set for them, or is everything too automated?

    Any information or links would be greatly appreciated.
  • This looks really fantastic for some microcontroller based music instruments that i work with: hypersense [arrowtheory.com].
    Right now we are tethered by USB lines, it's not such a big problem, we stand still mostly during performance. But for some more dance oriented work we will need wireless, definately.
    I'd be interested in exchanging notes with anyone who is thinking of trying these chips out.

    Simon.

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