The term Wi-Fi (or WiFi to some) was a spark of marketing genius that happened remarkably recently, hiding a range of overlapping standards the techies prefer to call using their IEEE Ethernet standard designations, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n.
It only took nearly twenty years to get this far so you sense they might be on a roll with the new multi-gigabit wireless technology known as WiGig (for wireless Gigabit). Designed to send high-bandwidth HD video around homes and possibly urban areas at short range, it has its own standards body, the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, which now agreed to work with the Wi-Fi industry body, the Wi-Fi Alliance, to make the two interoperate and backwards compatible.
I was going to write that predictions of consumers and businesses using WiGig in as little as two years as being rather optimistic. Just look at Wi-Fi's slow emergence from a technology that was thought up as long ago as the early 1970s when some guys at Xerox PARC thought Ethernet should actually not use wires (as it later did) but should be wireless.
In fact, this is probably wide of the mark. In the near future we will not have slow-emerging wireless technologies at all, as we did in the past, but rapidly-emerging wireless technologies in several forms that confuse the heck out of everyone.
Having just got the hang of Wi-Fi, consumers will be asked to pay attention to the aggressive advances of WiGig, WHDI (wireless home digital interface) and WirelessHD and the short-range technology WiDi, designed specifically for monitors.
The manufacturers claim they are all different but that is really nonsense because we just don’t need nearly half a dozen ways to ship data and video around people’s homes. That some vendors are backing more than one as a form of insurance tells its own story.
The collaboration of the powerful Wi-Fi Alliance and the powerful but under-dressed WiGig Alliance bodes well for the latter as the standard that will drive the industry’s obsession with HD video, but you’d be a fool not to forecast confusion ahead for the people who actually buy all this stuff.
But at least this time they came up with a snappy name first.
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