by John Brandon

5 New Wireless Technologies for Today’s Businesses

News Analysis
Apr 21, 20143 mins
Internet of ThingsMobileRFID

Wireless technology changes quickly. This matters if you're running a business, as faster Wi-Fi can improve employee productivity as well as customer service. These advances in wireless tech are therefore worth watching.

Wireless technology is literally all around us. In a corporate setting, there are Wi-Fi signals, fast 4G LTE access points on smartphone and Bluetooth running in everything from mobile printers to security terminals in the front entryway.

Because wireless tech is so pervasive, and because businesses rely on wireless tech now more than ever, it’s also constantly improving and evolving. To help you keep track, here are five of the latest advancements to expect this year and in 2015.

WiGig: High-Speed Wireless

Known by the technical spec 802.11ad, this new Wi-Fi protocol due later this year will connect at theoretical speeds of 10Gbps using the 60GHz radio band.

Today, the latest 802.11ac spec connects at up to 1Gbps using the 40GHz radio band. In a corporate setting, one potential early application is monitoring a building using extremely high-definition video cameras that send their signal over Wi-Fi instead of a wired connection, according to Nick Ilyadis, CTO at wireless chipmaker Broadcom.

Bluetooth Smart: Same Tech, Less Energy

This short-range wireless tech has a distinct advantage over existing Bluetooth: While both connect over a similar 30-foot range, Bluetooth Smart isn’t constantly sending out a signal and uses less power. According to the official Bluetooth SIG working group, businesses will start using the new Bluetooth signal this year and into next for authentication (using gadgets such as the Bionym Nymi, which verifies users based on their heartbeat) and collaboration (by syncing devices and sharing documents).

Apple iBeacon: Transmit Retail Deals to iOS Devices

So-called iBeacon devices are actually a retail-oriented use of Bluetooth Smart. However, the concept relies on Apple technology to transmit a signal to the iPhone or iPad. As you walk by a store shelf, your phone can connect over a short-range to receive a discount.

“These emit information that can be picked up by apps on your phone, creating an in-store sensor network that can provide shoppers with product information, electronic coupons and deals. Now the store shelves can talk to you,” says Erick Schonfeld, a producer for the DEMO conferences for emerging technology.

Cisco Intelligent Proximity: Wireless Content Sharing

Here’s an unusual — and highly targeted — wireless tech that will soon be available in beta. For those who participate in a high-definition videoconference using Cisco Systems telepresence gear, your iOS or Android device can connect automatically when you walk into the room. You can then use Cisco Intelligent Proximity for Content Sharing to grab presentations and other documents you need during the HD video meeting. Conferencing systems such as the Cisco MX200 and MX300 will support the service. The service uses standard Wi-Fi but senses your proximity to the meeting and authenticates your access automatically.

Wireless in the Car: Safely Stay Productive on the Go

Get ready for a revolution of wireless streaming in cars. Starting this summer, you’ll be able to tap into fast wireless data access over 4G LTE wireless in cars such as the upcoming 2015 Audi A3 and the 2015 Chevy Impala.

New apps such as Kaliki, which reads the news to you, will work without data connection hiccups. In the Impala, you can share the data connection with up to seven people around the vehicle — it’s a roving hotspot. The Audi A3, meanwhile, will also support read-aloud news and high-resolution photos in the touchscreen navigation to help you find a meeting location fast.