Wireless technology is becoming the next big development in the New Economy, and Arizona is becoming a major player in the business, speakers told the first Arizona Wireless Expo held Monday in Tempe.
Organized by Connection One, a wireless research center at Arizona State University, the expo brought together several hundred executives, chief information officers, researchers and marketing representatives from Arizona wireless companies to discuss the latest developments in the industry.
"Wireless is poised to take off, and we have a strong base in Arizona with companies like Motorola, Intel and General Dynamics and the strengths at our universities," said Jonathan Fink, vice provost of research at ASU.
Among the range of wireless projects under development by Arizona companies are:
• Passenger voice and data communications systems for commercial and business aircraft by Honeywell International.
• Precise positioning systems using GPS satellites by US Positioning, a company based at Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa.
• Controls that provide security for vital infrastructure such as water and electric systems by Secure Homeland Technologies;
• Software and semiconductors to improve the voice quality of wireless telephones by Mesa-based Acoustic Technologies; and
• Advanced displays for mobile telephones by Tempebased Three-Five Systems.
Arizona state government is exploring greater use of wireless technology, for example by equipping Child Protective Service agents with wireless devices that allow them to report more quickly to the main office or contact other agencies
such as law enforcement or the county attorney.
"Government can’t be left behind," said Chris Cummiskey, chief information officer for Arizona.
Wireless technology is penetrating many aspects of daily life, said Allen Nogee, analyst for In-Stat/MDR, a Scottsdalebased market research firm. Major store chains such as Wal-Mart and Kohls are using price tags with wireless receivers that allow the retailer to instantly change the price of each item on the shelf and keep better track of inventory, he said.
Also, wireless local area networks are growing rapidly for connecting home computers and will exceed use of wireless LANs in business enterprises by 2007, he said.
And cell phones with increased capabilities such as the ability to transmit video at high speeds will grow in popularity, Nogee said. "By 2007, one of every three people on Earth will use cellular telephones," he said.
Security remains an issue with wireless devices, but encryption technology is available to keep sensitive data out of unauthorized hands, participants said.
As an example of how ubiquitous wireless Internet access has become, Intel CEO Craig Barrett said it’s possible to log on at the base of Mount Everest, on just about any sidewalk in Manhattan and at 8,000 cafes in Seoul, South Korea, using a wireless technology called Wi-Fi.
The number of Wi-Fi hot spots is expanding rapidly because they are relatively inexpensive to set up and are largely unregulated by governments, he said.
Barrett predicted rapid growth in the number of wireless digital homes with high bandwidth connections between the home computer and consumer electronic devices.