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The Future of Wireless

With promising wireless technologies on the horizon, electronic devices clearly seem to be heading towards a world free from tangled wires.

Today, the majority of smartphones include wireless technologies like 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as standard, offering seamless connectivity. Now that these technologies are commonplace, manufactures are looking towards more innovative options to attract buyers. New wireless technologies will trump existing ones by providing faster speeds, easier connectivity and seamless communication among devices. Here is a quick overview of what the future of wireless technologies looks like.

DLNA (DIGITAL Living Network Alliance) is an innovation that is sure to catch the attention of media enthusiasts. It is a communication technology that allows devices to share content over an existing wired/wireless network. DLNA-enabled devices range from smartphones, tablets, televisions, gaming consoles, media players and cameras. Not only does it allows live streaming and easy sharing of music, video, and photos; it even supports printing over the network. Once connected to the network, DLNA-enabled devices detect each other easily and allow for seamless sharing with no setup required.

Many smartphones like Nokia N8, Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC Sensation and Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S come with DLNA integrated. Media players like Western Digital's TV Live Hub have it too. It can be enabled on most tablets by installing apps.

Wi-Fi Direct
TO CONNECT two devices wirelessly, you would typically require a Wi-Fi setup in which a router broadcasts a network and your devices - be it a PC, phone, laptop, netbook, or TV - all connect to the router. The router in turn, acts as starting point, enabling connected devices to communicate with each other. Opposed to this conventional way, with Wi-Fi Direct, compatible devices can connect directly by generating their own wireless network. While most devices across gadget categories (TV, Printers, etc.) have Wi-Fi connectivity in-built as an option, moving forward, Wi-Fi Direct will be the easiest way to share data. Devices like Samsung's Galaxy S/ SII and LG Optimus Black P970 and even printers that can work with Wi-Fi Direct are available in the market.

NFC or Near Field communications
NFC, OR Near Field communications is a technology that uses magnetic fields to connect devices. It is a short range wireless technology that can work up till a few centimetres. It is very fast and takes just a second to connect to a NFC-ready device when within range. It can be used for financial transactions, sharing content, streaming multimedia, initiating multiplayer gaming, pairing Bluetooth and to read various NFC tags for identification, coupons, advertisements and so on. Google’s recently launched 'Wallet' is a great example that highlights the growth of mobile payments via NFC. Devices such as Samsung's Nexus S, most of the Blackberry OS7 range and new Nokia Symbian range have NFC integrated.

ALTHOUGH 3G is still far from seeing mass adoption, there are already talks of 4G arriving in India next year. LTE, WiMax and HSPA+ are the three technologies that come the aegis of 4G because of their ability to transfer fast data. What matters the most here is that 2G and 3G work for both voice and data while 4G works only for data transfer. The noticeable improvement that 4G would offer over 3G is better coverage area and higher browsing speeds of up to 100mbps (depending upon the device used). Since it works using a wider frequency range of 2 - 8Ghz, data transfer speeds are not that affected by number of users. For 4G a whole set of new devices across categories will be required to be launched in India as there is no device in the market that can actually utilize 4G connectivity.

Wi-Fi 802.11ac
WI-FI IS one of the best wireless technologies for data transfer. Currently in its 4th generation, Wi-Fi is differentiated on the basis of standards – 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n - with 802.11n being the latest, capable of speeds of up to 600 Mbps and offering extended range. It works using the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz channel. Now, Wi-Fi will step into its 5th generation with the 802.11ac standard. The new standard dictates a theoretical maximum transfer speed of up to 3.6 Gbps and uses the 5Ghz channel for data transfers. It will improve upon signal range, will support better connectivity with multiple devices and consume less power - so important for the battery powered smartphones and laptops of tomorrow. This standard will also make it easier to stream full HD videos and transfer large amounts of data between devices wirelessly. Devices featuring this new standard of Wi-Fi are expected to be demonstrated/launched at the upcoming CES 2012 expo by Broadcom and various other device manufacturers.

Bluetooth 4.0
BLUETOOTH V2.1 has been the minimum available across devices until last year. However, the demand for faster transfer speeds led to the evolution of Bluetooth v3.0 which has been integrated into most new smartphones now. As a technology, Bluetooth has evolved rapidly - so now, some high-end smartphones also have Bluetooth v4.0, which adds a new protocol called ‘Low energy’. This consumes a fraction of the power consumed by conventional Bluetooth devices and provides faster transfer speeds too. As opposed to a standard 50 foot range (clear line of sight), it offers a range of 200 feet. Devices such as Apple's iPhone4S and Motorola's Droid Razr are the latest phones to come with Bluetooth v4.0. Some Ultrabooks like the Asus ZenBook also have Bluetooth 4.0.

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