Wireless LANs steal the Demo 2001 show
PHOENIX -- ALTHOUGH the glitz may still be shining on products that offer wireless wide area access to real-time data, some of the more interesting new product launches being announced this week at Demo 2001 are staying within four walls.
Wavetrend, Atheros, and panGo are targeting their PAN (Personal Area Network) and wireless LAN products directly at corporate security officers, government snoopers, home users, and retail store owners.
Based in Irvine, Calif., Wavetrend will offer a network card that uses the low-bandwidth, 433MHz spectrum to transmit a message to a reader attached to a computer, to encrypt and decrypt any files on the PAN-enabled PC. Encryption occurs when the owner of the data leaves the area and decrypts the data when the user returns, both taking place when the user is within 8 feet to 10 feet of the system, according to Fernando de Sousa, CTO at Wavetrend. The system uses 256-bit encryption licensed from two major encryption companies, TwoFish and Rijndel.
The technology, placed on cards the size of a PC card, also can be used for access into buildings. Notebook computers with a Wavetrend transmitter installed will also send an alert if a nonauthorized user is leaving the building with a tagged device.
Wavetrend is also taking its technology out-of-doors.
The European Union (EU) is in the process of requiring member country automakers to include a wireless transmission device that stores into memory the VIN (vehicle identification number), the engine number, the chassis number, and, when registered, the license plate number.
Using electronic readers, installed at former border crossing and other locations, even gas stations, the reader will look for a match; for example, between the VIN on the vehicle with one of the 2 million stolen cars in Europe. If there is a match, an alert is sent to the authorities. If the electronic unit in the car is disabled, the system, using an infrared as the car passes the checkpoint, instantly triggers a camera that takes a picture of the license plate.
Atheros Communications, in Sunnyvale, Calif., has something a little more family-oriented in mind for its product. Atheros will be one of the first companies to offer a 2-chip 802.11A solution for LANs and home networking. Sending at 54Mbps, Atheros' wireless 802.11A chip set is expected to be used by set-top box manufacturers. With an 802.11A chip set installed in the box and base stations located in the home, users will be able to share a single DVD movie on multiple television sets.
Atheros will also be incorporated into PC LAN cards so business users can connect at a high bandwidth from their portable device for video conferences or any multimedia data.
Chips will ship in the second half of this year and will be priced the same as the current 802.11B chip set.
Also detailed at the show, panGo's location and personalization software for wireless systems can be used at stores to alert customers as they enter various areas of a retail store about sales and discounts, based on the shopper's personal buying habits. Eventually, the system will be able to be tied into the store's inventory system.
Users at Home Depot, Macy's, or Wal-Mart will be asked to swipe their store shopping card into a reader attached to the shopping cart.
The middleware is Java-based and offers APIs for easier integration into a company's backend systems, according to Mark Pollard, director of engineering at panGo.
"We call the middleware a Pamlet, a PPango Proximity Enabling Application," Pollard said.