LAS VEGAS -- CES 2017 -- Synchronize your watches, er, wireless devices.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is introducing a new technology at CES this year that enables sub-microsecond synchronization between wirelessly-connected products. While WiFi users can already coordinate activity in time across different devices – for example, in the case of casual, multiplayer WiFi games – a lack of precision makes those wireless connections unsuitable for high-performance audio and video applications, and that's the problem the Wi-Fi Alliance is attempting to solve.
With TimeSync, the Wi-Fi Alliance says WiFi connections will be able to support "in-room, multi-channel audio/video rendering wirelessly with precision output," meaning high-fidelity stereo and home entertainment systems can be configured without wires. The technology is designed to eliminate echo and also ensure that audio can be precisely matched up to video output even when the two are streamed from different sources.
TimeSync works both with connections out to the Internet and with local point-to-point Wi-Fi Direct connections.
High-performance media is the most obvious and immediate use case for TimeSync, but there are other applications as well, particularly in the industrial Internet-of-Things space. Wi-Fi Alliance Vice President of Marketing Kevin Robinson spoke with Light Reading recently about a company trying to measure weight turbulence and noise from a new wide-bodied jet on an airport runway. According to Robinson, the company might typically use wired sensors lined up along the runway for measurements, but with TimeSync, it could set up those instruments wirelessly.
here on Light Reading.
The news from the Wi-Fi Alliance at CES 2017 isn't perhaps as groundbreaking as some of the news from previous years. In 2015, the Alliance announced Wi-Fi Aware, a way of enabling offline discovery when another Wi-Fi Aware device is nearby. A handful of companies have since certified some of their products as WiFi Aware including Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) with their embedded WiFi adapters. (See Wi-Fi Alliance Unveils Location-Based Breakthrough .)
In 2016, the Alliance announced its new IoT specification, dubbed HaLow, which operates in the 900MHz frequency band. HaLow holds promise as an alternative option to cellular-based IoT specs, but it's still under development and not expected to debut officially until 2018. Robinson noted that work on HaLow is progressing, but wasn't able to share any details. (See Say Hello to HaLow, the New WiFi Spec for IoT.)
This year, in addition to TimeSync, the Alliance is also offering some predictions on the evolution of WiFi in 2017. Among them, the Alliance predicts that this will be a breakout year for WiGig, which enables gigabit-speed wireless connections; that WiFi location technology with accuracy levels up to one meter will become broadly available in WiFi chipsets and lay the groundwork for more indoor, location-based applications; and that there will be greater convergence between WiFi and licensed wireless technologies, which will in turn magnify the impact of future 5G communications.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading