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Five technologies that will change the face of IT

USB 3.0, 3DTV and other technologies

We look at five technologies that look set to become part of every day lives very soon, to find out how they'll change our lives.

Video streaming over Wi-Fi

When you get home - with your high-def, 3D movie stored on a flash drive - you plug the drive into your laptop and transfer it to your network file server over a gigabit Wi-Fi connection.

A couple of minutes later, the movie is ready to stream via a 60GHz wireless link from your networked entertainment center to your wall-mounted HDTV.

Wired ethernet has consistently achieved higher data speeds than Wi-Fi, but wireless standards groups are constantly trying to figure out ways to help Wi-Fi catch up.

By 2012, two new protocols - 802.11ac and 802.11ad - should be handling over-the-air data transmission at 1gbps or faster.

As a result, future users can have multiple high-definition video streams and gaming streams active across a house and within a room.

Central media servers, Blu-ray players, and other set-top boxes can sit anywhere in the home, streaming content to end devices in any location.

For example, an HD video display, plugged in with just a power cord, can stand across the room from a Blu-ray player, satellite receiver, or computer - no need for expensive, unsightly cables.

The 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards should be well suited for home use, though their applications will certainly extend far beyond the home.

The names reflect the internal method of numbering that the engineering group IEEE uses: 802 for networking, 11 for wireless, and one or more letters in sequence for specific task groups (that's how we got 802.11a, b, g, h, n, and others).

The 802.11ac standard will update 802.11n, the latest and greatest of a decade's worth of wireless local area networking (WLAN) technology that began with 802.11b.

With 802.11ac, wireless networking performance will leap from a theoretical top speed of 600 mbps to a nominal maximum of more than 1 gbps.

In practice, the net data carried by 802.11ac will be likely be between 300 mbps and 400 mbps - more than enough capacity to carry multiple compressed video streams over a single channel simultaneously.

Or users may assign individual streams running on unique frequencies to a number of separate channels. Like 802.11n, 802.11ac will use many antennae for receiving and sending data wirelessly.

The 802.11ac flavour still won't have the capacity to carry lossless high-definition video (video that retains the full fidelity and quality of the raw source), however.

Today, lossless video is common over wired connections after decompression or decoding of a data stream from a satellite, cable, or disc.

The right hardware will be able to take the 802.11ac compressed data stream and send it directly to a decoder in an HDTV set; some HD sets already have this capability today.

But when uncompressed video has to stream at a rate faster than 1 gbps, a speedier format must be used.

NEXT PAGE: Where 802.11ad comes in

  1. USB 3.0, 3DTV and other technologies could change the way we live
  2. More on USB 3.0
  3. Video streaming over Wi-Fi
  4. Where 802.11ad comes in
  5. 3D TV
  6. More on 3D TV
  7. 'Augmented Reality' in mobile devices
  8. More on augmented reality
  9. HTML5


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