With the overwhelming success of USB technology as the preferred interface, comes the challenge of organizing all of the cabling from desktop peripherals. Users with multiple USB peripherals find the clutter of cables unsightly and inconvenient to their workspace. With many different USB connections for mobile devices, such as cellphones, cameras, MP3 players and PDAs, it becomes increasingly difficult to use them on the go. To overcome these challenges a new method for connecting peripherals has come to fruition. A method, which offers the same benefits of a physical USB connection without the need for unsightly cables, a technology known as certified wireless USB. Using an ultra-wideband radio frequency ranging from 3.1 – 10.6 GHz, 127 devices can connect to a single computer up to 10 meters away without a hub. Connections made less than 3 meters away from the host can benefit from speeds typically USB 2.0, while connections from 3 to 10 meters will operate at 110 Mbps. Devices that support dual role or direct connections with each other can also operate with wireless USB technology.

The Freedom of Wireless USB Technology

Christopher Cowlan

The Freedom of Wireless USB Technology

Author: Christopher Cowlan, CablesToGo

coverWith the overwhelming success of USB technology as the preferred interface, comes the challenge of organizing all of the cabling from desktop peripherals. Users with multiple USB peripherals find the clutter of cables unsightly and inconvenient to their workspace. With many different USB connections for mobile devices, such as cellphones, cameras, MP3 players and PDAs, it becomes increasingly difficult to use them on the go.

To overcome these challenges a new method for connecting peripherals has come to fruition. A method, which offers the same benefits of a physical USB connection without the need for unsightly cables, a technology known as certified wireless USB. Using an ultra-wideband radio frequency ranging from 3.1 – 10.6 GHz, 127 devices can connect to a single computer up to 10 meters away without a hub. Connections made less than 3 meters away from the host can benefit from speeds typically USB 2.0, while connections from 3 to 10 meters will operate at 110 Mbps. Devices that support dual role or direct connections with each other can also operate with wireless USB technology.

 

To make wireless USB possible, both the computer and the device must possess the proper wireless interfaces to communicate. A computer must possess either a Host Wire Adapter or a Wireless Host Controller Interface. The USB device could have two wireless options to establish a link with a computer’s wireless interface; however the option available to the user is determined by the existing connection method of the USB device. A device can connect to a computer with wireless USB through a Device Wire Adapter or Native Wireless USB.

 

The Two Computer Options

Option 1:    A Host Wire Adapter or HWA is a dongle that connects to any unused USB port of a computer offering an easy install and upgrade. An HWA is ideal for laptop users since the PCIMA upgrade slot will remain available for other upgrade options. The easy installation of an HWA gives piece of mind by eliminating the need to open a computer’s case, which would risk damage to sensitive internal components through accidental static discharge. Because wireless USB operates using an ultra-wide band frequency range, physical barriers such as walls, doors, cubical dividers and other solid objects can affect the connection. An adjustable antenna on an HWA dongle is recommended to allow an effortless link between peripherals when physical barriers threaten the connection.

Option 2:    A Wireless Host Controller Interface or WHCI requires a connection through either the PCI or PCI Express interface on a computer’s motherboard. A WHCI is ideal for users that desire an upgrade component more permanent than a removable dongle. As wireless USB matures, it is more likely WHCI will become an integrated component to new PC motherboards, providing out-of-the-box convenience.

 

The Two Device Options

Option 1:    A Device Wire Adapter or DWA allows the user to connect existing wired USB devices through a wireless means. A DWA will look physically similar to a hub with multiple USB connections for wired devices. The DWA is ideal for connecting existing wired peripherals in close proximity to the PC without unsightly wires.

Option 2:    A Native Wireless USB or Native WUSB for short is a device that has the wireless component integrated making this method ideal for portable devices such as cellphones, PDAs, Cameras and MP3 players. As Wireless USB matures, it is likely that other peripherals such as printers, keyboards, external storage and modems will possess native WUSB capability allowing flexible placement around the desktop.

 

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TruLink™ Wireless USB Device Adapter Kit

 

Security

Although a wireless connection is convenient, it does pose the risk of intrusion from unauthorized individuals. To prevent this from occurring, wireless USB possesses security features to ensure a user’s peripherals and PC are not shared with others. Wireless USB offers a 128-bit encryption key that must exchange between the computer and the device to authenticate its use. The first time a new wireless device is introduced, an authentication must occur using a cable for the cipher to exchange. Once the cipher has exchanged, the cable will no longer be required and wireless communication can commence.

The flexible use of Wireless USB offers many advantages for common applications today. Home offices, commercial offices, conference rooms and educational environments can experience the benefits of wireless freedom with the convenient features of traditional USB cabling.


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