Do We Need Another Short Range Wireless Spec?

Slashdot has this story about a new consortium of tech companies mobilizing around a specification for wireless data transfer.

I understand that this is not the same as BlueTooth or WiFi and even in the abstract at Slashdot they mention the focus of the group on trying to better address the user experience around just sending bulk data between devices within proximity of each other.

Is this a problem that really needs to be solved? If so, why not solve it in software, like zeroconf, regardless of the presence or absence of a cable? I’d love to just plug in my mass storage, quad interface drive and have it smart out which files I want to go where, let alone having that all happen without the drudgery of mating interfaces with appropriate, and sometimes costly, wires.

I think I can see the appeal of the idea but I question the need. When PDAs were more popular, they all had the ability to transfer virtual cards wirelessly though not all of them interoperated equally well. Some could even share other data and applications over the same infrared protocol with a minimum of fuss. In my experience the novelty soon wore off and the advantages of traditional network transfers and portable media as well as the physicality of printed business cards long outlasted the draw of transfer over infrared.

I get that TransferJet is essentially wireless USB with some zeroconf like magic thrown in for good measure. It is not entirely a fair comparison to the decrepit infrared transfer technology of yore. It isn’t the technology I am trying to compare but rather the lack of a real problem or need.

Even with the rise of home media systems, is the task of running appropriate cable so arduous that people will line up for effective wireless replacements? With drop in docks for most portable media players, even there the appeal of high speed, short range wireless seems limited. TransferJet seems to be promising low power consumption but it isn’t going to be free, it will be a cumulative cost on top of the power requirements for video playback on my PMP. If you dock your player to give it power, then will you even notice the addition of a permanent data cable from your dock into your stack?

Also, given the range of the spec, you are talking about dropping your PMP right on your existing media stack. That beautiful touch interface is now no longer in reach. You are going to need to add a remote control of some sort to boot which seems like a hefty offset to the ease and convenience of all that high speed, wireless data transfer.

I am far from convinced that this technology will be any more secure than its predecessors. Statements like the range is too short for feasible data theft make me bristle. Are these companies not familiar with what hackers have done with off the shelf components to snarf all forms of wireless already in use? You really think that close proximity nonsense is going to stand up against the same sort of determined hack?

I won’t even get into the problems of specifications designed by committee. All this money, effort and such high profile companies and you’d think they’d solve a problem I really have as a consumer rather than introducing yet another standard that will no doubt have, or already has, competitors that just confuse and cost the consumer more.

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