Is Apple ready to play with WiGig and Light Peak?

We live for speed. We want faster, faster, faster. Whether its speeding between destinations or exercising our creative computing muscles, we want faster file transfers, faster synching, faster wireless.

One more thing, we're really, really sick of cables.

Apple's influence is felt in two emerging standards which together promise this faster world: Intel's Light Peak and Wireless Gigabit (WiGig).

Fast and wired

Intel's Light Peak could become King of the cables. A 10Gbps optical interconnect technology developed as a one-size-fits-all replacement for things like USB, DisplayPort and HDMI, it's expected to start marching to market in 2011. It should achieve 100Gbs in future.

Light Peak can run multiple protocols simultaneously over a single cable.

This means you can connect multiple, different devices with a single cable, so drives, docks and displays, will cause less clutter in your digital den.

It is interesting that Apple was reportedly involved in development of Intel's Light Peak.

The first public demonstration of the technology took place at the Intel Developer Forum in September, 2009, with Light Peak running on a modified Mac Pro. The video below shows the demo, in which a video card drove an HD monitor while a 2 GB file was copied across in just two seconds.

Fast wireless, too

The trouble with Light Peak is it uses cables. Folklore claims Apple CEO Steve Jobs hates cables (and buttons).

No surprise then that it was Apple which helped bring Wi-Fi to the mass market when it created all that buzz about the technology on the 1999 launch of the clamshell iBook, with that quaintly-named AirPort connectivity. (Wi-Fi in an Apple-branded can).

We need a wireless standard that's capable of handling big files fast. Luckily we now have Wireless Gigabit (WiGig), which offers speeds of 7 gigabits per second in the 60GHz.

The first draft of the specification for WiGig was published this morning by the Wireless Gigabit Alliance. Backward-compatible it gives the support required for really high performance wireless data, display and audio applications.

Future of computing is the digital home

The idea behind this standard is, to "create a global ecosystem of entertainment, computing and communications devices that work together seamlessly to connect people in the digital age," the Alliance said in a statement.

This means you should in future be able to beam video held on your iPhone onto your flatscreen TV, or vice versa. Perhaps the computer will be relegated to a role as an entertainment server, with ever more sophisticated touch-based devices delivering the computing functions most of us need. Perhaps Apps will access data stored in the cloud. At the very least, you'll have another option for your digital home.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is helping get WiGig off the ground, saying it sees it as a potential replacement for optical audio or wired HDMI connections.

We've been told it will be a minimum two years before WiGig products reach market. What makes this interesting to an Apple-watcher is WiGig Alliance Chairman and President Ali Sadri's highly positive stance on Apple, as reported by the LA Times this morning.

"Sardi pointed to Apple as an innovator in driving new technology uptake, he wouldn't comment on the company's involvement."

Apple wouldn't comment. But in my humble opinion it's a given that future Apple products will support Light Peak and/or WiGig. Perhaps we'll even get wireless iPhone synching. With, or without, Flash.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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