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Startup Ozmo unveiled a chip and software that utilizes WiFi for faster, cheaper connections than Bluetooth, says EE Times.

The company plans to offer peripheral makers a stripped-down, dual-band 802.11 chip that has a 10-meter range and sells for about the same price as a Bluetooth chip. It could be used in media players like the Apple iPod Touch, which already uses Wi-Fi.

“Originally, Wi-Fi chips were too big and power hungry, but that’s not the case anymore,” said Craig Mathias, a consultant with Farpoint Group

While Mathias foresees “no immediate big impact on Bluetooth,” he expects there could be one in the long term. “In a couple of years, a Wi-Fi PAN business could be very successful,” he said.

The simplified receiver does not require support for roaming or scanning to link to an access point. The chip uses Wi-Fi Protected Setup to establish a 9-Mbit/second link over 2.4- or 5-GHz bands to any client running the Ozmo Wi-Fi driver software. The software fits into existing Wi-Fi and USB software stacks as an additional driver layer.

Forward Concepts estimates 531 million Bluetooth units will ship this year in cell phones alone, representing a $1.4 billion market that will grow to $2.7 billion in 2012, when some 1.2 billion units ship in handsets.

So far, Ozmo has no design wins for the chip, which is sampling now and will be in production this fall. Peripheral and router maker Belkin is testing the Ozmo approach but has not made any statements about using it in products.

Ozmo is demonstrating its chip at Intel’s booth at Computex this week. Intel has said it will work to pave the way for industry standards for Wi-Fi PANs.

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