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Archive for Tuesday, December 17, 2002

KU tapped for wireless research

December 17, 2002

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A Kansas University center will be conducting research on new technology that is expected to invade large segments of the electronics industry within the next five years.

Officials with KU's Information and Telecommunication Technology Center announced Tuesday that the center has signed an agreement with Bluetooth Special Interest Group to test technology designed to allow electronic devices to communicate with other electronic devices without the use of wires.

The Overland Park-based company serves as the national trade association of companies that are trying to add the technology, called Bluetooth, to their products.

The technology is being used widely in Europe to create products such as wireless headsets for mobile phones and wireless keyboards and mouses for personal computers.

Analysts in the electronic industry are expecting the technology, which uses computer chips and radio waves, to soon make a big splash in the United States.

"If you read the analysts' reports, the forecasts are for the technology in the next two to five years to be used in hundreds of millions of devices," Mike McCamon, executive director for Bluetooth Special Interest Group, said. "It's expected to become a standard feature in mobile phones and personal computers. We have very big, big plans for this technology."

KU's role is to provide testing services on how usable the technology is for consumers. For example, the university will insert the Bluetooth computer chips into devices such as cell phones and personal computers and then test whether an average consumer could use their cell phone to access the address book on their computer.

The KU center will provide three months of testing services for the Overland Park firm. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Victor Frost, director of the KU center, said university officials were hoping for a long-term deal with the Overland Park company. If such a deal is reached, Frost said the benefits to KU and Lawrence could be enormous because it would make the university a player in a major technology that is expected to be in high demand.

"This is a big opportunity for us," Frost said. "It is a new technology that's not widely deployed yet and has a lot of potential. It could be great for economic development by creating some spin-offs."

Bluetooth Special Interest Group has about 2,000 member companies. Its membership includes many of the largest technology companies in the world, including Microsoft, IBM and Intel.

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