Wireless a strong focus at Consumer Electronics Show

The 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in Las Vegas in January, gave consumers and the tech world a chance to see the latest technologies and concepts that companies have been working on for the past year. But it was wireless technology that commanded the spotlight, as the vast majority of newly introduced products take advantage of a wide range of wireless solutions.

From Bluetooth to WiMAX to Wi-Fi, wireless technology is not being used just to connect to the internet, but also as a way of streaming video from a computer to a television, powering safe and secure voice-over-IP (VoIP) phones that take advantage of the security features associated with Wi-Fi, and many other functions.

Among the wireless products announced at CES were docks for iPods, wireless routers, and wireless speakers. But there were a number of other innovative products previewed at the conference that soon could appear in homes and schools.

“Ultra wideband” (UWB) had a strong showing, with Toshiba demonstrating a convertible laptop-tablet PC with a UWB wireless dock. This dock acts as a wireless replacement for many of the wires that peripherals on computers use, such as cables for Ethernet connectivity, the keyboard, mouse, and others.

Wireless USB hubs are set to take advantage of ultra wideband technology to deliver wireless printing, hard drives, iPod synching, and more to computers. This development opens up the possibility of attaching almost any peripheral device to a computer, and more specifically a laptop, from distances of up to 30 feet away.

Competing with UWB is wireless High-Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI. HDMI provides all-digital, uncompressed audio and video streaming to HD televisions that have 1080p resolutions. While this feature might not be of much use to schools now, it’s something to consider in the near future as districts begin to make the transition to HD televisions in their schools.

One innovation that has the potential to become a fixture in homes and schools is wireless television. For example, Samsung has introduced its FP-T5894W Plasma TV. Other than a single AC power cord, all of the audio-visual equipment is plugged into a wireless docking station, which can be placed as far as 300 feet away from the television. In addition, VoIP phones are now being made using Wi-Fi technology. New models of SpectraLink’s NetLink 8000 Series of phones were announced right before CES began. The phones support 802.11a, b, and g, thus eliminating the need to plug the handset into a PC. This opens up a whole new set of possibilities for schools looking for a secure phone line to be used by educators.

Although the 2007 International CES presented the tech world with many new products, there are bound to be many more wireless devices announced as the year progresses. Many of these will take advantage of new features within Windows Vista and the upcoming approval of the 802.11n standard.

eSchool News Staff

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