The consumer electronics industry is entering a new era of ubiquitous connectivity, spurring a boom in shipments of video-oriented devices equipped with high-bandwidth wireless video interface solutions, an analyst claims.
According to iSuppli Corp, the market for video-enabled consumer electronics (CE) devices with high-bandwidth wireless video interfaces is to grow to more than 85.2 million units by 2014, up from 606,000 units in 2009. By 2014, more than 53 million of these devices will be wireless-video-enabled digital TVs and consumer-oriented netbooks/laptops.
“With the transition to digital technology and high definition (HD) largely a fait accompli, the CE market now is rapidly transitioning to an era when connectivity among consumer electronics devices and to the internet will be the driving force behind many key innovations and new capabilities,” said Randy Lawson, principal analyst for consumer and display electronics at iSuppli.
The third generation of consumer electronics
iSuppli calls this new era the third generation of consumer electronics, or CE 3.0, a period defined by the paramount importance of connectivity.
This era succeeds the CE 2.0 phase that saw widespread deployment of products designed to receive, store, play back, process and display digital high-definition content. CE 2.0, in turn, follows the CE 1.0 era, which was characterised by analog media and device formats limited to linear playback modes and tethered by analog connections to a much shorter list of content sources.
“As both CE devices and content have moved from the analog to the digital domain, the need for connectivity to gain access to new sources of content, as well as to share existing content across multiple device platforms has moved to the forefront,” Lawson said.
“This need now is playing a major role in product design requirements for many leading CE OEMs. One major factor that will help drive the connectivity boom is the coming widespread adoption of wireless video technologies that will allow CE devices to share content via live streaming of both compressed and uncompressed video.”
Wireless connectivity will allow traditional non-mobile devices such as DVD players and televisions to access local networks for broadband connection to online media, or to store or retrieve user-generated content on local home media servers or media PCs.
During the past 10 years, the portable CE device market has grown rapidly. From iPods, to PMPs, to netbooks, to tablet media devices such as Apple’s iPad, the list of devices from which multimedia content can be purchased, accessed and shared has grown to vast proportions.
What has been lacking until the past two years was an easy method with which to connect mobile devices with small displays to products with larger displays. However, in 2010, it’s apparent that one killer application will be a simple wireless link for connecting a laptop, netbook or iPad-type devices to a big LCD-TV or plasma television.
With the opportunity for network and inter-device connectivity within the digital living room heating up, a number of new wireless standards are being promoted in the CE market, all of them vying to duplicate the enormous success of standards like Wi-Fi and USB in the PC realm and HDMI in the digital, high-definition CE area.
Among the solutions being promoted are three consortium-led standards: WHDI, WirelessHD and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance. WHDI is based on a unique video modem solution from fabless semiconductor supplier Amimon Inc., and operates in the 5GHz band. Competitors to WHDI, which offer 60GHz-based solutions, include WirelessHD as well as the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, the new consortium announced in May of 2009.
Adoption of wireless video technologies such as WHDI and WirelessHD has begun in the premium segment of the CE market — an area that will continue to be an important application space for these technologies in the next few years. Nonetheless, iSuppli believes the more promising market for wireless video streaming adoption is to be found within the growing mobile CE market, especially from consumer-oriented netbook and laptop PCs.
Solutions that enable wireless video and graphics connection to HDTVs are expected to garner keen interest from PC OEMs and consumers alike. This is because the solutions coincide with other noted trends, such as rapid growth in internet-sourced video consumption on PC platforms and an ever-deeper penetration of broadband services into homes around the world — especially within Europe and North America, where penetration will exceed 80pc by 2013.
This new market segment will provide a welcome boost to the still nascent field of wireless CE semiconductors, and will enable a killer application for wireless video sharing via wireless-video-enabled netbooks and laptops.
By John Kennedy
Photo: The Dell Streak tablet computer