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WiFi antennaA WiFi update is overdue. The first WiFi story here at patrickWeb goes back more than five years. I was bullish then and and remain bullish. Like most thing related to the Internet, we are still at the early stage with new things being announced every day. According to a survey by the Wi-Fi Alliance, roughly 80 percent of us would rather give up our iPod than do without WiFi and do away with our home telephone before our home WiFi. The same survey showed that 38 percent of us work regularly from all over the house. WiFi is on the way to ubiquitous. Using WiFi with our laptops is a given but there are many other things as well.
New WiFi devices are bursting into the market. Sony has announced its first WiFi broadband communication and entertainment device. In addition to web surfing — it includes the Opera browser — and media player functions, the Mylo has WiFi and so you can make Skype VoIP phone calls at any hotspot. You can call your friends or colleagues from the airport for close to free instead of paying $1.49 to Verizon Wireless. Sony is even throwing in a year of free access for the Mylo at T-Mobile hotspots. Another entrant is Netgear’s Skype WiFi Phone. It will join Belkin, Edge-Core and SMC. There is going to be a lot of competition in the WiFi phone arena as size and price go down while battery life goes up.
WiFi is not limited to computers and phones. There are also WiFi projectors that eliminate passing the projector cable around the conference room table. And of course, cameras. Kodak’s new EasyShare-one 6MP WiFi camera allows you to email or upload pictures directly over the Net — no computer required. Mobile real estate and insurance agents are good candidates for this.
Music players with WiFi are now on the scene. At the Demo conference I saw the new Sirius Stiletto, a satellite radio receiver that also has 2GB of storage for music downloads *and* the ability to tap into the satellite feed via WiFi when you are at an ariport or otherwise out of range of the satellite signal. The Stiletto can automatically record what you are listening to and allow you rewind or play it back later. WiFi TV streaming will be here soon.
One issue with WiFi has been the antenna range. Ruckus Wireless has developed claims its “Beamflex” smart antenna technology will enable wireless to work anywhere in your home. Another company, called Vivato, has a new antenna that can deliver WiFi over a range of four miles. Stay tuned.