Firewire, Bluetooth, BlackBerry; now there’s WhiteFire as Unwired Technology introduces a new digital wireless format that enables reception of up to four stereo or eight mono audio channels simultaneously via wireless headset.

That gives vehicle passengers the ability to select audio from various inputs such as DVD movies, CD players, video games, internet devices, even radios (remember car radio?).

The first product to employ WhiteFire technology will be an Unwired-brand wireless headphone system for the automotive aftermarket, planned for release near the end of the year.

Some of Unwired’s OEM customers are expected to introduce similar systems under their own brands in early 2003. However, the company is planning to aggressively license WhiteFire technology to manufacturers of other entertainment devices as well, particularly those employing a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) such as car audio and home stereo systems.

Each wireless headphone contains a channel selector button that shifts from one audio source to another, and four LEDs that indicate which channel is currently being used.  The technology is claimed to deliver high quality, digital mono or stereo sound that enables users to enjoy a variety of channels in much the same way as the entertainment systems on commercial airliners.

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Three devices are used in automotive applications. The first, an encoder box, is connected to each audio source; this box generates the WhiteFire signal for in-vehicle “broadcast.”  Second is an LED (Light Emitting Diode) transmitter installed in the vehicle headliner; this unit emits the IR signal.  Third is the wireless headphone itself.

For products equipped with a DSP, such as DVD players and car stereos, the proprietary code can be embedded into the DSP, eliminating the need for an encoder box.