Wireless technologies free us from a clutter of cables within our homes and offices and provide the freedom to communicate wherever and whenever we want. From the early days of radio broadcasting to our insatiable demand for ever faster digital content delivery on mobile devices, the pace of change in wireless developments has been dramatic and relentless. Moreover, novel wire-free applications are establishing themselves – from more convenient methods to recharge portable devices to quick and simple ways for making payments.
In their core communications role, wireless technologies deliver information (speech, pictures, data etc.) from point to point using radio frequency (RF) wave propagation. New standards are emerging all the time. We only need to think about the continual progress in performance achieved by the humble mobile phone: from the early days of GSM, through 3G to today’s 4G networks and the 5G system technologies now in development. For many people, everyday life would not be the same without wireless communications based on standards such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee. Close-proximity wireless applications include NFC for device pairing and retail payments, and Qi (WPC) for convenient battery recharging for smartphones and tablets. The essential need for low power operation in all battery-powered devices, whether wearable or fixed, drives continuous developments in ultra-efficient wireless standards that can extend range and data throughput whilst extending battery life. Expect to see many new developments exploiting the 802.15.4 standard, including Internet of Things (IoT) applications using 6LowPan protocols for IP connectivity. Where machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless communications need to extend to medium distances, the new Weightless standard is set to gain widespread adoption, with its novel use of so-called “white space” RF bands that have been vacated following the withdrawal of analogue TV services.