Wireless personal-area networks (WPANs) offer practical alternatives to the tangle of cables for such addon personal-computer (PC) components as mice, keyboards, headsets, and the computer itself. Low-power WPAN developer Ozmo Devices is in a better position to serve WPAN markets, thanks to an additional $7.5 million in Series C funding from its investorsGranite Ventures, Intel Capital, and Tallwood Venture Capital. Ozmo Devices has developed extremely low-power wireless solutions for WPANs that enable high-performance wireless connectivity between lowpower peripheral devices and Wi-Fienabled systems.

Ozmo Devicesheadquartered in Palo Alto, CA and with offices in the United Kingdomoffers a two-part WPAN solution consisting of a Wi-Fi chip and software to help peripheral developers provide wireless products with more bandwidth and less power consumption than Bluetooth versions. These peripheral solutions communicate with a system platform, such as a laptop computer or Apple iPod, up to a distance of 10 m without wires. Fabricated with a 130-nm CMOS process, the dual-band IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi chip is housed in a 6 x 6 mm package. It employs a simplified Wi-Fi receiver without need of support for roaming or scanning to link to an access point. It uses the Wi-Fi Protected Setup mode to establish a 9-Mb/s communications link over the 2.4- and 5-GHz Wi-Fi bands.

The software for the device fits into existing Wi-Fi and USB software stacks as an additional driver layer. A proprietary protocol is used with the software to maintain a tight polling interval and duty cycle as low as 2 percent to minimize power consumption, compared to about 12 to 15 percent duty cycle for Bluetooth. With this power efficiency, an Ozmo-equipped Wi-Fi peripheral device, such as a mouse, can operate for about 9 months on battery power versus about 4 months for a Bluetoothequipped peripheral device.

According to Dave Lyon, Chief Executive Officer of Ozmo Devices, "This new investment allows Ozmo to expand its sales and field engineering activities and continue its state-of-the-art development efforts. We are thrilled with the demonstrated enthusiasm and support from all our existing investors, especially in these tough economic times. It provides a strong validation of Ozmo's unique value proposition and long-term market potential." Craig Mathias, a Principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm Farpoint Group of Ashland, MA, adds, "Wi-Fi PANs are an exciting and potentially huge opportunity. Extending standardized and near-ubiquitous Wi-Fi connectivity to keyboards, mice, and other peripherals and adjunct devices simplifies overall product designs, improves reliability, and opens the door to new applications and greater convenience for both enterprise users and consumers."

One of the investors, Len Rand, Managing Director of Granite Ventures, notes, "Ozmo Devices' leadership in Wi-Fi PAN technology and the fact that its IC products allow peripheral devices to outperform those powered by legacy technologies like Bluetooth provide a tremendous foundation for the growth of the company. Ozmo Devices has gained market traction and forged key relationships with companies including Intel, Avago Technologies, and Wolfson Microelectronics. We are pleased to continue to support the company as it scales up its operations."

Last year, at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, CA, Ozmo announced a collaboration with Wolfson Microelectronics to provide audio peripherals based on the Ozmo Wi-Fi PAN solution. The OZMO01000 Audio Reference Design employs Ozmo's OZMO1000 integrated circuit (IC) and a model WM8987L low-power codec from Wolfson. The design kit is ideal for audio-peripheral developers seeking to create wireless peripherals.