Mobile phones to get USB connection

Qualcomm is to license the intellectual property for USB-on-the-Go (OTG) from TransDimension.

Qualcomm is to license the intellectual property for USB-on-the-Go (OTG) from TransDimension.

OTG is a portable supplement to the USB 2.0 specification that allows a peer-to-peer or direct connection among USB devices without a PC as intermediary.

When integrated into a handset, users would be able to connect their phones to USB printers, portable keyboards, CD-Rom drives, MP3 players and digital cameras among the hundreds of other USB devices now available.

A USB connection will also give users the ability to synchronise mobile phone data with handhelds and use the mobile phone as a modem when attached to a handheld that does not have integrated wireless.

Although most hardware devices require unique hardware specific drivers, USB divides peripherals into four classes: human input, audio, mass storage and communications.

Any device that includes one of these class drivers can talk directly to any device in that category using OTG, according to David Murray, vice-president of marketing at TransDimension.

The licensing deal will see Qualcomm include OTG technology as part of its standard 3G chipsets. The MSM6500 and MSM6250 Mobile Station Modem chipsets are for use in GSM, GPRS, WCDMA, and CDMA 2000 handsets.

With the exception of screen size and memory, cell phones may soon be as feature rich as any mobile handheld device.

The Qualcomm chipsets include a broad array of features including Secure Digital, voice recognition, 2D/3D graphics acceleration, MPEG-4 encoder/decoder, JPEG encoder/decoder, Bluetooth base band processor and USB OTG.

Qualcomm ships about 70 million CDMA chipsets per year and estimates about 15 million will be 3G chipsets in the fourth quarter. The MSM6500 and MSM6250 chipsets will ship in the second quarter of 2003.

Murray believes that USB On-the-Go technology will compete directly, and favourably, with Bluetooth solutions, estimating that there are about 1.3 billion devices already enabled with USB.

"USB didn't take off until Intel supported it in its chipset. Qualcomm supporting USB On-the-Go in its chipset is the equivalent," Murray said.

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