Sony's TransferJet to Get Boost From New Chips, Cards

Sony's short-range, high-speed TransferJet wireless data technology counts a lot of big-name companies as supporters, but so far its impact in the market has been limited. That's poised to change in 2011 with the introduction of new TransferJet adapters and a new chipset, developers of the technology said at this week's Ceatec electronics show in Japan.

TransferJet was first introduced by Sony as a concept in 2008. It can realize top speeds of around 375Mbps over distances of around 3 centimeters and is designed to replace cables for connecting gadgets.

It began appearing in products earlier this year when Sony launched digital cameras with TransferJet support. Because the system is new the TransferJet chips are still expensive, so rather than add the chip to all cameras, Sony added it to a Memory Stick card. That means only consumers that want the technology would pay for it.

It's currently supported by several Sony cameras, including the WX5, TX9, HX5V, T99 and T99D, but the Memory Stick adapter is useless in cameras that don't use that format. Instead, other cameras need an SD Card adapter, and Toshiba has now developed one.

"Many companies have been waiting for this," said Tsukasa Matoba, assistant chief technology executive at Toshiba's new market development project team.

The card, which is on show at this week's Ceatec is expected to be available next June, said Matoba. The mid-year launch gives gadget makers time to build TransferJet support into upcoming products.

Also new is a TransferJet chipset from Sony that should help speed up data transmission.

Sony has offered two TransferJet chips until now: one with a PCI interface and one with an SDIO interface. The PCI-chip requires a secondary bridge chip to connect with the PCI Express interface now common in most PCs and that's created a bottleneck and kept speeds down to about half of what's possible.

Sony's new chip has a PCI Express interface and will allow speeds of up to 375Mbps, said Takami Kawakami, senior manager of Sony's mobile LSI division. The chip will be available in January next year.

At the Ceatec event, which is Japan's largest electronics show, Toshiba was also demonstrating a new use for TransferJet: as a short-range link to a cell phone modem. The short range nature of TransferJet means the cell phone has to be placed within a few centimeters of the laptop's adapter. In the case of the demonstration this was next to the computer's trackpad, so actual use would have made typing problematic, but it worked sufficiently well to demonstrate the technology.

TransferJet's supporters include many major consumer gadget makers: Casio, Eastman Kodak, Hitachi, JVC Kenwood, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Seiko Epson, Sharp, Sony, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba. Japanese cellular carriers Softbank, KDDI and NTT DoCoMo are also backing the technology.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

To comment on this article and other TechHive content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon