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Motorola Backs UWB Startup

Motorola has invested in an ultrawideband startup, hoping that the wireless technology can eventually be used in its home multimedia products.

The amount of backing raised by Rochester, N.Y.-based Appairent Technologies was not disclosed. The Monroe Fund, managed by the Trillim Group, also contributed to the round.

"Our commitment to the home media and public safety environments will be strengthened by the embedded technology developed by Appairent," said Matthew I. Growney, managing director of Motorola Ventures.

Best known for its mobile phones, Motorola is pushing into the home networking market. According to Instat/MDR, the home networking market will grow to $5.3 billion in 2007. Within that market, multimedia wireless networking in the home will account for approximately 49 percent, or $2.6 billion.

Appairent's focus fits into that strategy. The firm spun out from Eastman Kodak Company in January 2002 and provides standards-based wireless modules, chips and protocol stackware.

The investment comes on the heels of a report from West Technology Research Solutions predicting that UWB will beat out the current wireless standard, 802.11b, or .

The firm said UWB would eclipse Wi-Fi, event though the latter is spreading in use across the country, helped by rollouts of hotspots in Starbucks and McDonalds. Other industry watchers think the two technologies may co-exist.

Motorola isn't alone in exploring UWB. Several companies, including Intel, Time Domain, XtremeSpectrum, Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics and others are working on chipesets. Intel is bouncing around the idea of implementing UWB technology into all of its chips.

Companies such as Sony and Panasonic hope to use UWB in their flat panel video displays, eliminating the need for wires while still broadcasting the highest quality images with full stereo sound. Other heavy hitting companies buying into UWB include Cisco and AT&T.