Wireless communication in the home, whether for computer data, audio, or telephony, is becoming an established fact in much of the industrialized world. The next logical step is to stream video. But the exponentially greater amount of data involved – particularly for high-definition TV – introduces a higher order of difficulty, and questions remain about whether wireless video will ever become more than a niche market.
“How popular will wireless home video distribution become?” asks ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson. “It’s the very early days for this market, so it’s hard to tell for sure. What is clear is that among the connectivity technologies competing in this space, Wi-Fi (802.11n) and wireless HDMI are closest to offering practical solutions.”
Consumers might want a wireless video distribution solution, but most will not pay extravagantly for it. So initial interest will come from two groups: tech-savvy early adopters at the high end of the home theater market, and those using the services of custom audiovisual installers. Paradoxically, building a large custom home entertainment system wirelessly could reduce installation costs by eliminating the need to run cables through and within walls.
While Wi-Fi formats suffice for compressed video, the HDMI link between consumer electronics devices and the TV carries relatively uncompressed data. In another paradox, the Hollywood studios consider wireless uncompressed HD video more secure: the vast amounts of data make storage difficult and the shorter range of HDMI radio signals makes “snarfing” – the theft of content from a nearby network – much more difficult compared to compressed data transmissions.
The challenge is to create equipment that can handle these huge amounts of information at a reasonable price. “The cost must be reduced,” says Wilson, “Vendors are hard at work developing products that will provide better quality at less expense. Especially for HD, today’s approaches may not be economically viable, but there are novel design approaches in the pipeline that may spark market growth.”
Wireless Video Distribution in the Home examines the state of the technologies and deployments in the wireless video domain for the home. It covers UWB, Wi-Fi, and Wireless HDMI as well as documenting efforts in the 60GHz domain and discussing new market entrants. It forms part of two ABI Research Services, EchoStar
Consumer Video Technologies and Home Networking