Wi-Fi expands to connected TVs as WiGig targets docking, syncing

Wi-Fi continues to expand its push into new devices and applications, while WiGig is gearing up to make a splash in the marketplace next year, according to recent industry reports.

The forthcoming Wi-Fi display specification called Miracast is poised to drive Wi-Fi deeper into consumer electronics, with one key growth area being the connected TV, according to Peter Cooney, wireless connectivity practice director at ABI Research. "Wi-Fi is expected to become ubiquitous in coming years, not only to allow wireless Internet access, but mainly as consumers increasingly demand wireless connections between TVs and other devices, such as smartphones and media tablets, said Cooney.

More than 1.5 billion devices equipped with Wi-Fi are expected to ship in 2012, with growth coming from mobile handsets, laptops, media tablets, printers, TVs and automotive. Since 2009, in excess of 9 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices have shipped. "Some 17 million Wi-Fi enabled flat panel TVs were shipped in 2011, this grew to 30 million in 2012 and is forecast to grow four-fold by 2017," according to ABI.

"Wi-Fi is expected to become ubiquitous in coming years, not only to allow wireless Internet access, but mainly as consumers increasingly demand wireless connections between TVs and other devices such as smartphones and media tablets," added Cooney. "The forthcoming Wi-Fi display specification or Miracast, will further drive Wi-Fi attach rates in the connected home as consumers embrace the technology."

The top six leading suppliers of Wi-Fi ICs--Broadcom, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Marvell, Intel and Texas Instruments--accounted for more than 85 percent of total market revenues in 2011, said ABI. The firm predicts IC vendors that have had success in the smartphone market will have an advantage in the connected TV market "as there is significant synergy between the two markets, not only in wireless connectivity but also applications processor requirements."

Meanwhile, WiGig--a new specification that operates in unlicensed 60GHz spectrum to deliver short-range transmission rates of up to 7 Gbps--is being primed for a big push in autumn 2013, according to Greg Potter, analyst with Multimedia Research Group. "Expect that some products will be announced at CES--mostly ultrabooks, laptop docks, and dongles--with some of those products shipping prior to the official certification program beginning in mid-2013," he said.

WiGig will be used for wireless docking, wireless screen mirroring and wireless syncing for mobile devices. Though the first devices to leverage WiGig will be laptops and laptop docks, the technology will subsequently find a home in televisions, smartphones, cameras, tablets, and external hard disks, said Potter.

He noted fabless chipmaker Peraso Technologies recently announced its PRS1021, which is a low-power 60GHz transceiver. Peraso mentioned pricing at $5 per unit at quantities of 100,000, which Potter said indicates that "pricing has reached a level where cost has not become an overly inhibiting factor to adoption.

WiGig's arrival might eventually displace some wired connections ports such as USB or HDMI, though it will take years for that to occur on a large scale, said Potter.

For more:
- see this ABI release
- see this MRG webpage

Related articles:
Wi-Fi Alliance readies Miracast certification for audio-video connections
Marvell is the latest to join WiGig chip race
WiGig touted for small-cell backhaul play
Celeno brings Wi-Fi to Amino set-top boxes
WiGig prepares to make waves in short-range wireless

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