Computex tech demo: Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth?

Wi-Fi for PANs

I'm a big fan of wireless mice, and at home — where my only PCs are notebooks — I've been using wireless optical notebook mice for years. All use a dongle, and while the dongles have been getting smaller, they're prone to breakage and sometimes I just lose the darn things.

I thought for a while that maybe I'd be able to get rid of the dongle completely by using a Bluetooth mouse. No luck. I tried two (one from IOGear and one from HP); basically, while I had no problem setting them up, they were never able to awake from sleep mode, which they entered whenever I took a break of more than a couple of minutes. I would have to reinstall them, which got so annoying that I quickly reverted to the old (but reliable) dongle-based products. (I have one more Bluetooth mouse from Microsoft that I still haven't tried.)

Last week, however, a company called Ozmo Devices came in to talk about technology that promises to let you use Wi-Fi the way you now use Bluetooth for so-called personal area networks or PANs — to wirelessly connect peripherals that right now are typically hooked up via USB. Ozmo will be showing the technology at Computex this week (I should mention that I'm not in Taipei for the show, although we'll have extensive coverage from my colleague Danny Allen and several IDG News correspondents who will be there).

Historically, Wi-Fi has been a poor choice for PANs because it gobbles up power — and devices such as wireless mice or speakers really don't need Wi-Fi's range and bandwidth anyway. But Ozmo says its technology basically throttles back the way Wi-Fi operates to dramatically reduce power consumption — so much that, according to Ozmo, a battery-powered peripheral using Ozmo's Wi-Fi chip would actually run longer than the same device using Bluetooth. On the notebook side, the power consumption would be no greater than that for Bluetooth, Ozmo says.

If the technology works as claimed, the benefits would be obvious. Just about all notebooks these days ship with Wi-Fi so you wouldn't need a dongle. The technology doesn't require a network either — Ozmo uses peer-to-peer connections between notebooks and devices. Bandwidth, while throttled back along with power consumption, would still be more than adequate for the type of device we're talking about — 9 megabits per second, according to Ozmo.

Of course, for the whole scheme to work, you'll need peripherals that incorporate both Wi-Fi and Ozmo's technology, but the company says Belkin and others have already announced plans to create Ozmo peripherals.

There's just one annoying angle. Ozmo is getting some funding from Intel, and has partnered with Intel to be compatible with the next generation of Centrino (Ozmo is actually exhibiting at Intel's booth at Computex). Consequently, you won't be able to use Ozmo peripherals with existing Wi-Fi notebooks, even though there's no real technical barrier to this (Ozmo says its technology could be added via a firmware upgrade).

I love the idea of getting a dongle-free wireless mouse that actually works. But there's no way I'm getting a new notebook for a few more years (mine is just a year old). On the other hand, realistically Ozmo peripherals and notebooks won't be available until early 2009 — giving Ozmo just enough time to work out the bugs before I'm in the market again.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Yardena Arar

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?