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All Technology and Politics are Local: Wi-Fi in the Home, Part Two

January 21, 2007 - 1 Comment

For all intents and purposes, the Wi-Fi revolution started in the home, rather than in the office (some would say it started in the supply chain industries, but it was a pretty niche technology in terms of numbers). Propelled by a very rich Intel Centrino marketing budget, the avalanche of wireless-enabled laptops and available hotspots, propelled the much connected wireless lifestyle. According to the Yankee Group, Wi-Fi hot spots will grow to over 70,000 in 2007, a 2300% increase from 2002.As we move to the ratification of 802.11n, we are now beset by a rich variety of”pre-N” home Wireless LAN options. While it is unwise to select a pre-standard Access Point for use in the office -large scale, forkliftable incompatibility is a bad thing -there is lots of room for experimentation at home.There are 2 key elements to emerging technology worth looking at:- Faster air-link speed- Better performance through the use of Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) antennas.While your home DSL or Cable Modem connection is not going to take much advantage of this kind of speed -think about it as a new 300 HP Mustang creeping along during rush hour — this second area, better performance, is particularly interesting, as beam steering/switching approaches turn traditional wireless negatives such as multi-path into more reliable, robust signal around your place. Streaming video from your set-top or home router to your experience devices (TV, music system, PC, gaming platform) does open up a world of possibilities.My prediction is the devices that come to your home this year and beyond will reset expectation for wireless and work, driving the next generation of business-class wireless to then make it scaleable, manageable, and of course, secure. Look to a 2008/2009 for this push into the Enterprise, just proving that history does repeat itself.The other key trend here is that the growing individualization of technology (some would call it consumerization) is upon us, reversing the traditional business-home technology migration curve that we saw in the computing industry. Or to borrow a little from former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Thomas P (TIP) O’Neill:”all technology is local.” At least now it is.

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  1. I've seen these posts as well as others you've written on the concept of localization (like with the Stockholm subway project and RFID.) How do other technologies that are wireless and lower-power (like Zigbee) factor in to the equation? Do they stand a chance against ubiquitous WiFi? Or are things like 802.11n too power-hungry to get the job done alone?