Qualcomm will support Wireless USB with its next generation of Snapdragon processors, a move that could make it easier for mobile devices to connect wirelessly to a broad range of peripherals, including existing USB devices.
While Wireless USB has been under development for a long time, it has never really taken off. However, the WiFi Alliance and the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) recently announced an agreement to develop a Media Agnostic USB Specification based on the WiGig Serial Extension standard, and it is this that Qualcomm looks set to support in its Snapdragon chips from next year.
Dubbed Snapdragon USB Over WiFi, it is expected that this will initially enable smartphones and tablets to connect to USB peripherals using a wireless hub with USB ports that enable legacy USB devices to be used.
However, as the wireless USB ecosystem evolves, Qualcomm expects that peripheral vendors will begin to include WiFi Serial Bus components in peripherals, enabling a direct wireless connection between mobile device and peripheral.
Eventually, this wireless support could eliminate the need to physically connect peripherals into smartphones and tablets altogether.
Qualcomm senior marketing manager for Mobile and Computing Brent Sammons disclosed the Wireless USB plans in a post on the firm's blog. He said Snapdragon USB Over WiFi is intended to eliminate the need for USB connectors on mobile devices themselves.
However, another advantage is that it has been designed so that existing USB class drivers supplied with the operating system can be reused to connect wirelessly to USB peripherals, he added.
"This minimises interoperability testing for various classes of devices: for example audio, video, human interface device (HID), mass storage, media transfer control. And this enhances the likelihood of adoption of WiFi Serial Bus by vendors of USB peripherals," he said.
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