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Intel aims Wi-Di wireless technology at handhelds

Technology could replace HDMI and VGA cables

Intel will bring its wireless display technology to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, company executives said last week.

The company's Wi-Di technology enables consumers to wirelessly transmit images and video from a PC to a high-definition TV screen. The technology will likely appear in devices such as netbooks, tablets and handheld devices, said Kerry Forrell, wireless display product manager at Intel.

"We fully expect to take the technology there," Forrell said, but he couldn't provide a time frame in which the technology would reach handheld devices.

At an investor conference earlier this week, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said Wi-Di technology bundled with Intel-based devices could make it easier for users to view HD content stored on gadgets like mobile phones on larger screens.

"What we want to do is have better out-of-box usage experience. What we'll be doing over the next few years is take the Wi-Di capability that's in the laptop today and extend that into all the Intel platforms," Otellini said. "Any of the Intel-based devices you have will be able to handle that seamless wireless communication of HD video between that device and the big screen."

Video quality from home camcorders is also improving, and there is an increasing interest in viewing such content on big screens, Forrell said.

Wi-Di involves software that uses the graphics capabilities inside Intel's Core processors and a wireless chipset to create a point-to-point Wi-Fi connection between the TV set and PC. The software automates the process of transmitting images from the PC to the TV.

But Intel's immediate focus is to put the technology in more PCs, Forrell said. The technology is currently available with PCs that carry Intel's Core i5 and Core i7 chips, and will soon become available with Intel's Core i3 processors. The technology will also become available in laptops in China and Europe soon.

In addition to spreading Wi-Di, the company is trying to make it easier to use. Currently, a wireless receiver box needs to be attached to the TV. Forrell said eventually the wireless functionality could be integrated into TVs.

"We will over time add this as a function to multifunction devices including TVs," he said.

The company is also confident that Wi-Fi technology will be able to handle transmission of high-definition content to TV sets. There is a half-second delay in displaying content between when it reaches a laptop to when it is shown on a TV. Over time, the company will try to cut that delay, Forrell said.

Commercial applications of the technology could include wireless transmission of presentations to a projector, Forrell said. There is also growing interest in watching 3D content on TVs, and Intel will develop the technology for transmission of such content.

Intel's Wi-Di could face competition from consumer electronics companies, which already sell internet-ready devices capable of bringing online videos and movies to TVs. For example, Nintendo's Wii gaming console streams content from Netflix to TVs. Companies like LG and Samsung also sell TVs and Blu-ray players that are capable of streaming movies directly from online movie sites.

While consumer electronics makers are partnering with content providers to optimize content for HDTV screens, Intel is focused on developing the technology, Forrell said. It is primarily up to the content providers to optimize applications and content for Wi-Di.


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