Thursday, April 30, 2009

Can 802.11 cut the HD TV cords?

802.11/WiFi for HDTV

For those of us in the know, 802.11 is the de facto wireless standard for computing devices that comes with all wireless PC/laptop and is increasingly available with mobile handsets and gaming console.

So the logical question is can 802.11 become the de facto wireless standard for all electronic devices. Say, instead of wiring up my new HDTV with all the players and other devices, would something like 802.11 help cut the cords?

This is an issue that a lot of industry players are grappling with and the latest verdict, for whatever it is worth, is yes according to this analyst report "802.11n Wi-Fi Technology is the Spoiler at the Wireless HD Video Party; Will Dominate ("

Reality Check

Instead of arguing over the technical details, we conducted an analysis on how 802.11n will perform in typical home scenarios. Think of it as simulations on how 802.11n will work in a perfect environment - so your performance at home will only be worse...


It turns out that working out the specific variable/assumptions are the most tricky part. So, this is what we came up with. We want a home environment where there are different type of wireless traffics: some web surfing, some VoIP chatter, some TV watching, and some Blu-ray video watching.

We also looked into the distances amongst all the devices because interference is a very real issue with 802.11. As things are further apart, there is less inference and vice versa.

So, here are the variables that we tried in our simulations.


Blu-ray video
Media center (MC) - provides Blu-ray and HD TV to, up to, two (2) TV's
Web session
VoIP call
Access Point (AP) - support the web and VoIP sessions


Short - 3m/10ft
Medium - 10m/30ft
Long - 15m/50ft


Without being exhaustive, scenarios range from:

Most “forgiving”: 1 MC + 1 HDTV + 1AP + 1 VoIP + 1 Web at long distance (15m/50ft)


Least “forgiving”: 1 MC + 1 Blu-Ray + 1 Blu-Ray+ 1AP + 1 VoIP + 1 Web at short distance (3m/10ft)


The performance threshold that we used was less than 200msec delay. If it is more than that, it becomes noticeable to human perception.

The long and short of it is that 802.11n only works within the acceptable range in the case of one HDTV far away from other devices, i.e. the most "forgiving" scenario. On top of it, all the other users such as web surfing and VoIP would have to accept significant performance hit.


I would love to hear your experiences using 802.11 in a mixed-media environment with multiple users. Maybe I am missing something here.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Models for Increasing Innovation

PARC on Innovation - an eBroadcast

From Concept to Commerce: New Models for Increasing Innovation

Thursday, May 14th, 2009 at 2pm EST/11am PST


* Why and when to partner with an external Innovation services company
* How to leverage an external Innovation Partner to create new lines of revenue
* What qualities to look for in an Innovation Partner to meet your diverse needs

Perspectives from a Senior Emerging Technology Analyst, a successful corporate Innovator, and a leading Innovation Partner on how to move from entrenched product offerings and market applications to new growth-based innovation models.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Dueling dinasaurs - the Cloud edition

Dueling Dinosaurs

A few months back while talking about setting networking technical standards, one of the networking statesmen told me Dave Clark's dueling dinosaurs story as a metaphor on timing as a critical factor. In this version, the best time to set the standard is when the core technical requirements have been worked out but the commercial interests have not yet been deeply entrenched.

In other words, if the core requirements have not yet been worked out, the standard is liable to be in poor quality which impedes its proliferation. On the other hand, when there is significantly commercial entrenchment before a given standard is set, there is every business incentive to bias the standard which will fracture the industry.

Clash of the cloud dinosaurs

Just read the economist article about how two interests groups are fighting over Cloud Computing standards. In short, one group who already have a meaningful footprint in the Cloud space are happy with what they do. The opposing group are proposing standards on interoperability that allows users to easily switch between services.

It is a comfort to know that even in the ever changing world of technology, some things don't.