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WiGig Wireless Alliance Targets the Dusty Rat’s Nest of Cables Behind Your TV

Today the specifications have been finalized on yet another bit of future-facing wireless tech: WiGig. As its name suggests, it’s all about gigabit speeds over the airwaves, and you’ll care about it ’cause it may make HDMI cabling obsolete.

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Today the specifications have been finalized on yet another bit of future-facing wireless tech: WiGig. As its name suggests, it’s all about gigabit speeds over the airwaves, and you’ll care about it ’cause it may make HDMI cabling obsolete.

This new tech has been brewing for several years, its complexity and the need to deconflict it with other wireless radio systems responsible for some of this long build-up, but the Wireless Gigabit Alliance has finally dotted the last i and crossed the final t. The WiGig system operates in the 60GHz band of the radio spectrum, technically in a zone called EHF for “extremely high frequency,” and this area is unlicensed in much of the world. Raw physics means that data communications in this band can achieve very high data rates (which is the attraction for the home wireless user) but also means that due to effects like resonance of oxygen molecules, 60GHz signals get severely attenuated as they travel through the air–limiting the practical operating range of devices that use them.

It’s for these physical reasons that WiGig isn’t intended to supplant the usual 802.11 b/g/n devices you may use to transmit your broadband Net signals around your home. Instead WiGig has a different goal: Replacing some of the high data-rate cables that are an increasing nuisance when you’re wiring up your home entertainment devices. WiGig can carry signals up to a data rate of 6 gigabits per second, meaning it can comfortably accommodate full HDTV signals–the notion being that soon your set-top box, or even your next-gen games console will be able to connect to your HD display without needing any additional wires beyond its power supply. As well as decluttering your home, this brings the advantages of letting you site your equipment in different locations, as well as enabling neat solutions like room-to-room transmission of HD signals so you can move your video to whatever room you happen to switch to.

Most importantly, the WiGig people have also just teamed up with the Wi-Fi Alliance, who promote and specify different technologies (like 802.11 n,) in order to make sure all these systems will cohabitate nicely in your future wire-free home. Given that there are competing solutions for the short-range, high data-rate solutions, like WHDI, this collaboration may give WiGig the edge over its competition.

To keep up with this news follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will even take your smartphone to my Twitter feed. And if you really liked this story, you can re-tweet too.

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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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