Wireless USB: the question nobody asked
In 2005, we were promised wireless USB. The idea seemed sound enough at the time. The USB Implementers Forum still has a page trumpeting the project. It points out that there are (or rather were – it is an old page) two billion wired USB devices. Wireless USB would bring the speed and security of a wired connection together with the ease of use of wireless. It would use Ultra-wideband (UWB) radio technology to establish a short range connection between a host and a device. At around three metres, it would offer USB 2.0 speeds. Performance dropped off with distance, down to a quarter of that at nine metres or more.
Unfortunately, this proved to be a troublesome project. The regulations surrounding UWB are different all around the world, and there was lots of paperwork and negotiation to be done. It wasn’t until 2007 that anything was ready to launch; Belkin got as far as selling the gear. It proved unimpressive, data rates weren’t as good as expected, and the range was limited, down to 1.8 metres for decent transfer rates. Sales did nothing, and it died.
There was a rather obvious problem with the concept: Wi-Fi. All of the major PC peripherals had already gone wireless: cheaply, with a decent range, and much faster. Ironically, USB proved the ideal port for the £20 Wi-Fi adapters it used. There’s another fly in the ointment: no power. Cut off from the cable, your wireless USB hub needs a power source, so you need yet another transformer plugged in at the wall. Actually, if it’s not too far away from your system, the best bet would be a USB cable. Oh, no – hang on. Quite. There was actually a second stab at getting wireless USB going, around 2013. It was radically altered and called Media Agnostic USB this time. The concept used a range of Wi-Fi frequencies and standards. Unfortunately, the horse they were flogging was dead after all.