Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Last week, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced Wi-Fi Certified TimeSync, a specification for precise time synchronisation between Wi-Fi devices. Products using the new technology are expected to hit the market later in 2017.
TimeSync is designed to ensure that clocks on different devices are synchronised down to a microsecond allowing each component to carry out its role at the precise time. This matters in cases when several separate network clients must be very well coordinated to provide a high-quality experience.
The Wi-Fi Alliance points to home entertainment devices that support multichannel audio and video rendering. TimeSync would enable such systems to work wirelessly with precision, providing perfectly synchronised audio and video output. We expect the specification to lead to high-end wireless audiovisual systems as well as home appliances that require a sophisticated level of coordination between them. This has so far been done with an assortment of specialist audio protocols on top of Wi-Fi such as Sonos' proprietary synchronisation, Imagination Technologies' Caskeid, Qualcomm AllPlay, and Google's Chromecast Audio, for example. Other applications may include healthcare, automotive and industrial uses — areas where a meticulous level of accuracy is a must.
There's a growing competitive aspect to local wireless standards as they evolve beyond their original intent causing a level of encroachment. Wi-Fi was designed to be a local computer networking specification, replacing the need for Ethernet cables. But as Wi-Fi has become a standard in households, it's become an obvious networking choice for manufacturers of modern-day consumer electronics.
Wi-Fi's role is expanding. It's no longer a simple Internet connectivity method, but is developing to support communications between a wide range of devices. The intrusion into the implementations of other local connectivity methods such as Bluetooth and ZigBee is inevitable. Given Wi-Fi's ubiquity and range, it will be hard to resist. The Wi-Fi Alliance's timing is just right.