LANs in the home are the next big thing, apparently, and Sharewave, the enigmatic but well-heeled company in El Dorado Hills, California, is upping the pace by announcing a new set of technologies called Digital Wireless.
Sharewave will not launch its own product-set, according to spokeswoman Laura Edens. "We will provide details of the new technologies and make them available to third parties," she explained.
Digital Wireless will enable multimedia content to be distributed from PCs to various appliances throughout the home.
The core technology is a compression technique called NAMI, Network Adaptive Multimedia Image Compression. Created by Sharewave, it is a low cost, single chip Asic. It provides fast, high quality transmission of all image types, including realtime video,natural images, and computer rendered graphics.
Digital Wireless will be available as embedded technology within a number of computing and consumer electronics devices to be manufactured by a range of vendors. The first products are expected by the autumn.
James Schraith, Sharewave's chief executive claims the new network will incur far lower costs than conventional set-ups, certainly under $100 per device.
Schraith, formerly Compaq's north American vice president and general manager, added: "Our strategy is built on extensive customer research which dictates that a home wireless networking solution must deliver multimedia content throughout the house at affordable price points. This technology extends digital multimedia content beyond the den or home office to other locations more appropriate for its use."
Digital Wireless aims to connect computers, television sets and other appliances via very fast 4Mbps radio frequency transmitters.
Sharewave is the latest in a spate of activities aimed at bringing Lans to homes, and connecting mobile devices together.
Communications giants, Ericsson and Nokia are working with Intel, IBM and Toshiba on the Blue Tooth short range radio technology to connect mobile PCs with text devices.
Another recent collaboration is the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance, which includes IBM, 3Com, AMD, AT&T Wireless, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Lucent, to publish specifications for home networking. Products supporting the specifications should be available by the year-end.
ShareWave was setup in 1996 by a group of ex-Intel engineers, "who have been raking in the cash from heavyweight investors," commented the local newspaper, the splendidly-named Sacramento Bee.
In fact, by February 1998, ShareWave had raised almost $18 million. Its blue-chip investors includes Microsoft; Vulcan Ventures, established by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen; Softbank Technology Ventures; APV Technology Partners; Draper Richards; Cendant; and a host of other corporate and private investors.
The company has kept a relatively low profile since its inception, confirming only that it envisions a digital wireless home network where the home PC connects and controls all computing power, digital information and digital appliances.
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