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Wireless HDTV with WHDI – Changing the Way Consumers Consume Content

Tue, 11/16/2010 - 4:43am
Noam Geri, Co-Founder and Vice President Strategic Marketing, AMIMON
WHDI StickThe Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI), the new wireless HDTV standard promoted by AMIMON, Hitachi, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp and Sony, could not have arrived at a better time. Consumers are increasingly using their portable devices such as notebook PCs and tablets to find and view HD content, but would still prefer to view this content on their big screen HDTV when at home. Many of these portable devices offer an HDMI output to enable a wired connection to the TV; however the idea of a cable running across the living room from the TV to the notebook or tablet near the sofa is not very appealing - consumers want their portable devices to remain un-tethered and close to them. WHDI provides the solution: the entire notebook or tablet screen can be viewed wirelessly on the HDTV.

WHDI operates in the 5GHz unlicensed band and enables robust wireless delivery of uncompressed HDTV including 1080p and 3D with quality equivalent to HDMI. Its latency of less than one millisecond makes it ideal for interactive applications such as gaming and with a range of about 100 feet through multiple walls, WHDI enables both in-room and multi-room wireless HDTV connections.

WHDI is complementary to Wi-Fi, which can also be used to enable viewing of online content on the TV. Whereas Wi-Fi is used to connect the TV to the Internet for streaming of compressed media files directly to the TV, WHDI connects the TV to the notebook PC or tablet and delivers the entire screen from the PC to the TV. With WHDI the PC or tablet is used to search and decode the content and the TV is used to view the content.

Several new Internet ready TVs use Wi-Fi to provide access to various video services such as Netflix, Hulu-plus, and movies on-demand. However, the number of sites accessible on Internet TVs is typically very limited – perhaps 20-30 websites; and Internet TVs obviously do not provide access to the other content, applications and games available on the PC. With WHDI PC to TV links, consumers can view on the TV any of the hundreds of millions of Internet websites, simply by using their PC, and without having to learn a new user interface. Moreover, the WHDI link can also be used for playing PC games on the TV and viewing PC media files. WHDI also enables multi-vendor interoperability, further opening up new content and sources to the HDTV.

PC ModuleThere are advantages to both approaches. The ultimate solution is one that combines both Wi-Fi and WHDI: Wi-Fi for access to select internet sites directly from the TV, and WHDI for accessing all other Internet content as well as content and games stored on the PC. Whereas Wi-Fi is good for streaming of compressed media files, it is not suited for delivery of uncompressed HD video. Delivering the PC screen wirelessly using Wi-Fi requires real-time compression which degrades quality and adds latency (as much as several hundreds of milliseconds) rendering such a solution unsuitable for interactive applications such as gaming. WHDI delivers the uncompressed video of the PC screen with less than one millisecond delay, which means that any application on the PC can be enjoyed on the TV with no compromises in user-experience. The good news is that the synergies between WHDI and Wi-Fi will enable low cost integrated solutions that offer both. Both WHDI and Wi-Fi operate in the 5GHz unlicensed band and use MIMO, so both can share RF components and antennas, and overtime consumers will get both for the price of one.

WHDI offers options for both external adaptor and embedded wireless HDTV functionality. The recently introduced WHDI stick enables a small form factor external wireless PC to TV solution. The WHDI stick is about the size of an external 3G USB modem – it plugs in directly into the HDMI port of the notebook PC and is powered by a single USB port. No software drivers or installation is required. The WHDI stick can transmit the video to any TV embedded with WHDI or to an external WHDI adaptor that connects to the TV via HDMI.

Embedded WHDI solutions are made possible with WHDI mini-cards that are available by a number of ODMs, and which receive the video either through a DisplayPort interface or a direct digital RGB TTL interface. These WHDI mini-cards are an ideal solution for integration not only into notebook PCs but also into tablets. Several tablets have been recently introduced into the market with HDMI ports; however connecting the tablet to the TV with HDMI would compromise mobility and user-experience. Adding WHDI is a natural next step for the tablet makers who are seeking new ways to differentiate their products in a highly competitive market.

The next frontier for WHDI is the mobile handset market. Smartphones are becoming more and more powerful, with processing power and graphic capabilities that almost match those of PCs. WHDI will enable consumers to experience this processing power not only on the small screen but also on big screen TVs. The synergies with Wi-Fi provide a path to integration of WHDI into handset connectivity chip. By using the application processor in the handset for some of the WHDI pre-processing, cost of WHDI can be reduced to less than $1, enabling mass adoption of WHDI in smartphones.

WHDI in tablets and smartphones will not only change the way consumers consume content, but will also open up to developers a new category of apps that are designed to be experienced on the TV. In particular gaming applications for smartphones/tablets will be designed also for the big screen experience. Imagine for example a ‘Wii-style’ tennis game in which the phone is used as a racket. The phone recognizes the movements and performs all of the graphic processing, and the gaming graphics are then transmitted wirelessly to the TV with WHDI.

WHDI is the only standard that addresses all wireless HD use cases in the home. It supports both in-room and multi-room connections; it is good for viewing media files as well and as interactive content such as gaming and its low power consumption makes it ideal for portable devices such as notebooks, tablets, smartphones, media players and video cameras. WHDI will enable consumers to easily access their PCs, tablets and smartphones, devices that are becoming increasingly important as entertainment sources in the home. This connectivity will help enable the evolution of HDTV and gaming distribution and consumption in the home.
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