Asian consortium plans Bluetooth network

A research consortium led by Singapore-based Kent Ridge Digital Labs (KRDL) plans to combine radio-based Bluetooth wireless communications with infrared technology.

The move will provide high-bandwidth network communications, the partners said here last week.

Bluetooth is a specification currently being developed that will let wireless devices communicate with each other and with PCs. The specification is expected to debut in a wide number of devices next year.

The goal of the R&B-net@home project, as the consortium is called, is to enable homes and offices to connect via high-speed wireless Internet links to broadband wide-area networks, said Hari Ramachandran, chief executive officer of consortium member Parallax Research.

The project, which will lead to commercial products within two years, will develop several new devices to integrate the high-bandwidth capabilities of diffuse infrared with Blue-tooth's ability to communicate through solid surfaces such as walls and floors, the consortium said.

As opposed to point-to-point infrared systems commonly used for connecting two devices, diffuse infrared technology can send data over a broad area in many different directions.

Research is under way to develop new photonic receivers, which convert electromagnetic waves into electrical signals, for infrared beams, digital signal processing algorithms, and signal processing chipsets, the partners said.

Though Singapore has a nationwide broadband network called SingaporeONE, penetration of multimedia services to offices and homes via cable modem or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) technology remains low.

The R&Bnet@home project hopes its technology will remedy that by offering a high-speed method for connecting to the broadband network.

The new initiative will enable a wide range of new multimedia applications and services to be made available to consumers through Internet appliances, said Leong Keng Thai, director-general of regulatory body Telecommunications Authority of Singapore, which helped form the five-member alliance.

The R&Bnet@home alliance is being hosted by KRDL, Southeast Asia's largest IT research facility, with 350 staff.

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