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What Makes Your Stuff Tick? Pulse~LINK's CWave Technology

In my preparation for the barrage of meetings I have set up at CES to identify the trend-setting new devices and services driving the home of the future, I have also been speaking with some of the players that provide key infrastructure that makes many of the devices in your home tick. They will be the focus of an upcoming report aptly entitled "What Makes Your Stuff Tick"? that will highlight some of these enabling technologies. Many of these companies' products go unnoticed by the average consumer but they play an important role in providing many of the coolest new gadgets and services you have come to expect every year. The problem is, there are a lot of different technologies and approaches to the same problem competing for your pocket-book. While there are a host of companies, both large and small, investing in these core technologies, not all of them will win out, forcing device manufacturers, service providers, and consumers themselves to make bets on what approach will have staying power.

These million-dollar gambles by the big consumer electronics companies and service providers are the life-blood of innovative companies like Pulse~LINK, a provider of a chipset that is being imbedded in a range of consumer electronic products shaping the future of the digital home. “Let’s talk about our technology going into a set-top box," said Bruce Watkins, Co-Founder, President, and COO. "They might think our technology is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but they are not going to adopt (CWave) unless the service providers want to go in that direction.”

As a leading patent-holder for Ultra Wideband (UWB), Pulse~LINK claims its CWave® Whole-Home Interactive HD™ solution is the first technology to facilitate room-to-room distribution of multiple HDTV streams and multimedia content over both coax and wireless connections simultaneously from the same chipset. What that means is you can have multiple simultaneous streams of HDTV distributed throughout the home on the coax backbone with wireless connectivity within a room. For example, an HD video source can originate in one room and stream across the home over the existing coax to another room and then bridge wirelessly across the room to the HDTV display on the wall. What this means for you is less wires, either by using the existing coaxial cable in your home or using wireless technology. This can manifest itself as Ethernet over coax for example, extending your computer network throughout the home, or wireless HDMI, making it much easier to position your TVs peripheral devices such as DVRs and video game consoles without blemishing the beautiful 60-inch flat panel you have on the wall with unsightly wiring.

Because all forms of video, from traditional broadcast and cable, to IPTV, to computer-based Internet TV, will be a driving force in the home for the next decade, chipsets like Pulse-LINK's CWave with the power and flexibility to meet the evolving needs of the market will be in high demand. The industry knows it needs to solve the problem of whole-home video distribution with the bandwidth to carry multiple HD streams and acceptable levels of latency, but it has not yet agreed on the best way to do it. The ability to choose a single platform without betting the house on a single approach for delivering whole-house video can be a huge advantage. "I personally believe there is no one-size fits all," said Watkins. "The companies that survive will be able to do with the (video) stream whatever the customer wants to accomplish."

Pulse~LINK's technology, and similar chipsets from other companies, will help drive the future of the digital home because they combine multiple functions into an integrated package that can then be baked into next-generation devices such as TVs, IPTV service terminals, and set-top boxes. But like most of the technology in this space, it is pretty expensive right now. The functions of this chip-set combine a lot of power and require a mapping to a virtual alphabet soup of standards-bodies such as MoCA, DLNA, and HANA. But with time and increased scale, expect to see prices come down, helping this technology find itself into more devices and more homes. In fact, Bruce expects CWave to be able to achieve 50% cost reduction within the year. While Pulse~Link has announced some large deals, such as the one with Westinghouse for wireless HDTVs, Bruce admits it is paying the bills right now with help from high-end homes and business applications such as digital signage and security cameras, which all leverage an extensive tangle of coaxial wiring. Perfect for Pulse~LINK. And while the company continues to sign design-wins, drive down costs, and wait for more partners to make their big gambles for the next 2-3 years on mass market solutions such as Ethernet over coax, Pulse~Link will continue to innovate and leverage the flexibility of its CWave technology.

Pulse~LINK, and other key digital home infrastructure companies, will be included in an upcoming report “What Makes Your Stuff Tick?”. Please contact me to be included in this report bmahony@trenderresearch.com.

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