Company develops competitor to Bluetooth

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. is introducing a new technology called WirelessUSB that it says could leapfrog Bluetooth to create a standard for wirelessly linking peripherals such as mice and keyboards to a personal computer.

According to Cypress Semiconductor, the Cypress CY694X lets manufacturers of human interface devices (HID) -- such as mice, keyboards, and gaming consoles -- "cut the cord." Operating at 2.4GHz, the CY694X can connect as many as seven devices up to 10 meters (30 feet) apart. WirelessUSB's low latency (an average latency of less than 8 milliseconds with four concurrent devices connected), compared with the more-established 27MHz, 433MHz and 900MHz devices, is intended to appeal to makers of gaming peripherals, which require latency lower than 30ms. It can achieve a maximum data rate of 217.6kbps.

"Current wireless HID technology has serious limitations, while Bluetooth is overkill for these applications," Cathal Phelan, vice president of Cypress's Personal Communications Division, said in announcing WirelessUSB. "Cypress's WirelessUSB products satisfy the three critical requirements for this market: power, price and latency."

The CY694X supports seven nodes per host and multiple separate links in the same space. Using a frequency-hopping spread-spectrum technology, the CY694X makes it possible to use multiple WirelessUSB devices in crowded offices and classrooms without fear of interference between devices, Phelan said. Advanced power management enables batteries to last up to six months in typical keyboard applications. Bidirectional communication makes it possible to encrypt transmitted data, ensuring a high level of security, according to the company.

The first CY694X devices are sampling now. Production in large quantities is slated for the third quarter of 2003.

Unlike Bluetooth, WirelessUSB doesn't require new drivers for operating systems that support USB. However, Bluetooth is a much more versatile technology, allowing the creation of "personal area networks" (PANs) connecting mobile phones, personal computers, handheld computers, headsets and other devices, according to a News.com article. In the absence of widespread availability of built-in support for Bluetooth on desktop personal computers, however, some industry observers have said that Bluetooth is too difficult for consumers to set up, the article adds.

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