Someday in the not-too-distant future you'll bring your laptop or tablet to work, set it on your desk, and magically your display, hard drive, and peripherals will automatically connect to it wirelessly with no need for all those ugly cords now under your desk.
This wire-free future will be the result of several technologies that exist or are in development, including one called WiGig, a multigigabit wireless docking technology capable of speeds of up to 7Gbps that runs on spectrum in the unlicensed 60 GHz frequency band. These frequencies are great for short-range communications and require line of sight between devices. That means it doesn't work well between rooms.
But that's not a problem, says Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis with the Consumer Electronics Association.
"Some of these technologies are specifically designed for certain use case scenarios," he says, such as that office example previously mentioned. "And there are other wireless technologies that can go through walls and provide connectivity in the home and they're clearly positioned for different purposes. A couple of examples are Z-Wave and ZigBee, which are both used in the context of lighting controls and other home automation technologies."
Dr. Ali Sadri demoed WiGig at the Intel Developer Forum held last month. Sadri is president and chairman of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, the standards organization that is developing the technology. He showed how an Ultrabook, external hard drive, and two monitors were able to communicate with each other without being physically connected.
"Since the inception of the WiGig Alliance back in 2009 we always had the vision that we need to develop a very high throughput wireless technology that is capable of doing things beyond what WiFi can do. For example, transmitting to the televisions, to the monitors--unleashing all the devices from cables," Sadri said.
"Hopefully... right after certification in mid-next year we will see more and more [WiGig-enabled] devices in the market," Sadri said.
There's no doubt cord-free communication between devices is coming. In addition to WiGig, other technologies that can do it include WirelessHD (which also uses the unlicensed 60 GHz spectrum), Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI), Wireless USB, Apple's Airplay, and Intel's WiDi.
"There's an awful lot of innovation in terms of wireless connectivity technologies and in January at the 2013 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) we'll see a number of [them] on display," says Koenig.
In the meantime, check out video of the WiGig demo at Intel's IDF: