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Veebeam lands cash to bring old Wireless USB TV to market

Ultra Wideband is dead, but it won’t lie down, seems to be the message coming out of Veebeam, a company which says that after two years of stealth it


Published: 14 October, 2010


Ultra Wideband is dead, but it won’t lie down, seems to be the message coming out of Veebeam, a company which says that after two years of stealth it has come out with a product that will wirelessly stream video from your PC to your TV. The product came out about a month ago and now the company has just landed another $6 million of venture capital to see its launch through.

The company is a combination of two WiMedia Alliance members, Staccato Communications from the US and Cambridge, England based Artimi. There is enough enthusiasm for the new products that putting in another $6 million seems to give the VCs behind Veebeam some optimism that the company can give a return on the numerous investments, amounting to some $80 million, in the two companies’ previous lives and a further $20 million two years ago. The new money came from Amadeus Capital Partners, Intel Capital, Oak Investment Partners, Bay Partners, Formative Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Vision Capital. That’s not even $1 million each.

The product looks like a bad guy in Doctor Who, but like most bad guys in that BBC production, it has some hot technology. Just as the world seems to be content to ship HD programming around a home using WiFi, this uses an unspecified wireless signal, which is almost certainly in the line of sight 60 GHz spectrum, which was growing in favor as the true UWB was dying off.

Wideband systems use a wide beam of spectrum and very low sampling intervals to send vast amounts of data – at multi-Gbps speeds, over short hops. The OFDM which underlies the WiMedia designed system used thousands of tiny signals side by side and multiplexes them back together. The Veebeam product insists that your PC notebook and its dongle are in the same room as your TV, but then beams any signal to the Dalek looking contraption which is plugged into the TV. It then converts it to a signal the TV can handle. There are two versions, one that can go as high as 1080p, but this needs an HDMI connector attached.

Veebeam sells the system for $99 in the US or £99 in the UK, and charges an extra $40/£40 for the HD version. It needs freely downloaded software to work with your PC. What we figure this software is doing is hijacking the image on its way to your PC display, sending it wirelessly to the TV and then reformatting it to be interlaced.

It was exactly this that the WiMedia Alliance version of UWB completely failed to do because it couldn’t go fast enough, which is why most UWB inventors went away and began working in the 60 GHz space, either combining it with WiFi as the WiGig Alliance is doing or using a new system like WirelessHD. SiBeam, the US company which put the technology into WirelessHD, has produced a chip that will do both, which will end up inside TV sets and Blu-ray players, some of which already have it.

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