back to article Low power Wi-Fi fan Ozmo loads up another $10m

Having burned through its first $30m, Ozmo Devices has raised another $10m by promising to have low-powered Wi-Fi devices breeding like flies by the end of 2010. While raising the latest $10.8m, Ozmo has added Atlantic Bridge as an investor. The company also acquired a new CEO, Bill McLean, who has chucked in some of his own …

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Stop

Well bluetooth isn't in everything...

Many corporate laptops and low-end netbooks are lacking Bluetooth. However I think that if new WiFi hardware is required surely it's easier to start putting bluetooth onboard.

There's a good reason that there's so many proprietry solutions out there - setup. I don't mean ease of setup but simply that if you use standard bluetooth (say to an onboard laptop bluetooh receiver) where software wise do you pair it to your keyboard? Then is this pairing active on the bios screen? What about on the logon screen?

Proprietry solutions can just 'plugin and go', I don't see this WiFi solution being any better.

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Boffin

I sense a growing battle for control of competing wireless standards.

This is looking increasingly like a repeat of the VHS vs Betamax kind of battle for control of the underlying technology, in this case wireless, forcing other companies to then finally licence from the winning company. Then the winning company (has the hope of) earning big money from years of licensing agreements with hundreds of manufacturers selling in total billions of products. So I can see why investors would want to gamble on this company, as they are likely to earn their money back and then they have the hope of winning a big piece of control over the market.

As usual what this is showing is at the core, its a battle for control, in this case control over the winning standard and the reason for winning control is to then be able to exploit everyone else who then has to fall in line, to licensing to use the increasing de facto standard, if they wish to earn a living from that growing market place. Its another battle for control, and the winner gets to exploit the licensing companies.

The problem is with wireless standards whilst there is a lot of overlap, there are also lots of different features as well and its these differences that I think are going to limit the chances of an overall winner ever emerging.

(If anything Wi-Fi Direct sounds a lot like Zigbee).

So as programmers, it looks like we are going to be stuck with a never ending interoperability battle for years to come. :(

Some of the main players in this battleground are Bluetooth, Zigbee, RFID, plus lets not forget the late entry from Wireless USB and now we also have Wi-Fi Direct. But even that list is no where near complete. This wireless battleground is an utter nightmare for programmers. For example, for anyone with a strong constitution (and a bottle of brandy to hand!) try daring to look at this bloody scary battleground list of "standards"...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ad-hoc_routing_protocols

Yes there are some applications where wireless is very useful, like a laptop to a router etc. but I can't help wanting to question the logic of the gold rush towards turning everything wireless, not least with the problem of the ever increasingly congested wireless bandwidth that will create, plus the problem of the increased power usage (and increased power wastage, which when multiplied by a billion users we get a lot more power wasted for often little reason) and then we have addition hassle of things like having to charge wireless devices, something I never have to think about with my trusty old wired PC keyboard. Plus then of course wireless also brings with it additional security problems and issues that wired solutions don't suffer from.

It seems logic and reason is getting pushed aside to promote wireless everything gold rush as the must have technology. So I can see why investors are interested in this company, but I do have to question the logic of all this.

But I think the worst part is the years of interoperability battles we look like we are going to have to suffer. There is a lot of sense in moving towards a completely open and licence free standard that anyone can use (plus it will save a lot of companies a lot of money in the long run) and I think a totally open and free standard is the only way we will bring the interoperability battle to an end.

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Pint

*gulp*

Dear god man.....that is ridiculous. Glad Im not a programmer.

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Silver badge

It'll come down to one thing.

Does low power WiFi cost less (or will it cost less) per unit used than current bluetooth?

If I want high speed wireless comms that bluetooth can't do, I'll use WiFi as-is.

If I want connectivity that bluetooth can't do, I'll use WiFi as-is.

In other words, if it ain't cheaper, I'm not interested.

And I'm willing to hedge a bet that few others would be too.

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Bronze badge

The wonderful thing about IT standards...

...is that there are so many to choose from.

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FAIL

The Wi-Fi Direct technology blinkers

Of course, the low power Wi-Fi approach is coming along just as Bluetooth low energy is launching, with its promise of reducing power consumption by several orders of magnitude below anything WI-Fi Direct can achieve. So this could be a classic example of building a brand new stable after the horse has bolted.

As always, wireless standards never meet their delivery dates. Wi-Fi direct was promised to be complete and have a qualification process in place around now. The Ozmo announcement implies that is probably still a year away. Although equally delayed, the Bluetooth low energy standard was published last December. Its qualification process should be in place by the end of this month and at least three companies are ready and waiting to start shipping chips.

One interesting point is that much of the Bluetooth low energy work is happening in Europe, which is frequently off the radar for US technology companies. As happened with GSM, they only believe what they see in sunny California, and then wonder what's hit them when the European standards arrive. So Bill McLean’s confidence may yet turn out to be more than a little myopic.

And to answer the pricing question, a Bluetooth low energy chip will be around one fifth of the cost of a Wi-Fi Direct chip, as it’s been designed for minimum silicon area. Plus it has the advantage that the volumes are higher, as they ride on the mass volume cellphone market, whereas Wi-Fi is limited to the much smaller smartphone and laptop markets.

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