Chrissilva CES, the showcase of all tech that is likely to make a splash over the next year, is upon us. While reserved primarily for, as the name implies, consumer technology, there are fundamental tools and technologies that will impact businesses as well.

News coming out of Las Vegas today is around chipmaker Intel’s use of existing Wi-Fi radios for personal area network (PAN) connectivity. The release of the updated Wi-Fi driver software will allow the existing wireless 802.11 radios inside devices with the Centrino 2 chipset to use the radio as a means to connect to an IP-based network as well as local, Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The devices, ranging from cameras to network attached storage (NAS) will allow users to rely on the Wi-Fi radio in their Centrino-powered device to provide IP connectivity as well as file sharing and peripheral connectivity. Currently, the standard for most PAN applications and peripheral devices is Bluetooth, however Ozmo Devices, a firm partially funded by Intel, is out to change that.

While consumers may applaud the ability to connect to multiple resources while saving battery and not having to juggle dongles for various wireless accessories, the real appeal for making dual-use of the Wi-Fi radio in the device is its potential to advance the idea of the all-wireless workplace. Wireless infrastructure vendors have long talked about the future state of an all-wireless workplace where the LAN and resource connectivity is all wireless. Saving on the need for deploying wired network drops, the all-wireless story is appealing, if a suitable Wi-Fi network is already in place. Benefits can include a more flexible and more easily reconfigured workplace and the potential for lower power consumption due to having just wireless client devices to power in addition to printers and some access points – ideal for a branch office.

Intel has talked about the idea of its Cliffside technology – the ability to split the phsyical wireless radio in a client device into two separate, logical connectivity devices for the past year or more. Today, the ability to make this concept reality not only extends to new devices, but is backward-compatible with all 5100 and 5300 Intel WiFi Link chipsets.

What does this mean for an IT department contemplating an all-wireless deployment? Devices will not only to connect to the network using Wi-Fi, but can be connected to share peripherals and resources as they become available.  In addition to power consumption savings, the new multitasking features of the WLAN chipsets will allow for simpler standard configurations of mobile client devices, taking advantage of a newly multi-tasking 802.11 radio.

By Chris Silva

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