Sony is developing a wireless data transfer system for gadgets that is capable of sending data, including pictures and video, over a range of a few centimetres.

Transfer Jet is based on a Sony-developed near-field communications system that the company envisages being built into a range of different portable consumer electronics devices, to enable transfer without wires. Effective data rates of about 375Mbit/s over a 560Mbit/s physical layer can be realised with the system, which puts it faster on paper than USB2.0 and IEEE1394 FireWire interfaces.

A prototype of the system is on show at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In a demonstration, a digital camera equipped with Transfer Jet and about 45 images was placed onto a version of Sony's photo reader box that also packed the technology. After a short pause, the images began transferring and within a few seconds the VGA-resolution images were inside the photo reader, and could be viewed on a television.

Sony clearly sees big things ahead for the technology. During a CES news conference Steve Haber, a senior vice president with responsibility for mobile and imaging products, said Transfer Jet "could also play a key role for Sony moving forward."

Transfer Jet has been under development by Sony for a couple of years and there's about a year's worth of work left before it's ready for the commercial market, said Kentaro Odaka, general manager of Sony's communication technology laboratory, in an interview.

Odaka said the technology is based on a completely new near-field system developed by Sony that isn't related to its already-popular Felica system. Felica is widely used in smartcards across Asia but lacks the data throughput for more demanding applications. Transfer Jet uses a 4.5GHz system that is different but similar to ultra wideband, he said. The system has no security or encryption because it operates over a distance of a few centimetres.

"Look for Transfer Jet technology in a variety of new products in the near future," said Haber.