Bluetooth 4.0 to reach devices in fourth quarter

The new specification will be used in more devices than its predecessors

The Bluetooth 4.0 wireless specification could start to appear in devices such as headsets, smartphones and PCs by the fourth quarter, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group said on Wednesday.

The new specification will be able to be used in lower-power devices than previous versions of the technology, including watches, pedometers, smart meters and other gadgets that run on coin-cell batteries, said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG standards-setting organization. Previous versions of Bluetooth could only go into devices with triple-A or larger-capacity batteries.

Bluetooth 4.0 includes a low-energy specification for transmitting small bursts of data over short ranges, in addition to the high-speed data transfer capabilities introduced with Bluetooth 3.0 last April.

More wireless capabilities are being added to gadgets like cameras, portable game players and tablet PCs to help them communicate with other devices, said Charles Golvin, principal analyst at Forrester Research. Bluetooth 4.0 could be used to let those devices exchange low-level information without using much energy, he said.

"These protocols are designed to be very efficient because they are delivering small bits of data," Golvin said.

Despite the low-power option, users will notice only nominal battery-life improvements for long-range or continuous data communication, Foley said. Bluetooth 4.0 radios will consume roughly the same amount of power as Bluetooth 3.0 radios when used to sync smartphones with laptops or listen to music with wireless headphones, he said.

The new specification will carry the high-speed Wi-Fi feature introduced with Bluetooth 3.0. That allows devices to jump onto Wi-Fi 802.11 networks, where it can transfer data at up to 25Mbits per second.

Bluetooth competes with wireless technologies such as WiBro, UWB (Ultra Wideband) and Wi-Fi. But Bluetooth 4.0 is better-suited for short-range communications, as competing technologies expend a lot of energy to transmit data over similar distances. "They'd be like pulling out a cannon to kill a mouse," Golvin said.

The Zigbee wireless specification is another alternative to Bluetooth 4.0, but Bluetooth has the advantage of being widely deployed across devices, Golvin said. That gives it a head start over competing technologies.

Bluetooth is also an open standard, while most competing low-level technologies tend to be proprietary, Golvin said. For example, The Nike + iPod Sport Kit uses a proprietary technology to send exercise data from a shoe to an iPod or iPhone.

Tags bluetooth

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service

2 Comments

Nick Hunn

1

It’s nice to hear the message going out that Bluetooth low energy, which the techies know as Bluetooth 4.0, is on our doorstep. Since its first public outing as Wibree, it’s evolved into what is likely to be the most successful wireless standard ever.

However, I’d like to correct a few inaccuracies in the report. The most glaring of which is the repeated statement that it’s a short range technology. A lot of effort has gone into the standard and the chips to ensure that it will work over distances of up to 100 metres, whilst still running for years on a coin cell. That comes from the efforts of silicon designers to improve the receive sensitivity of their chips, as well as some fundamental changes to the radio standard itself, such as widening the modulation index. The proof of that is best seen to be believed, and TI has produced a short video of a remote controlled car which is first hand evidence of the enhanced range. You can see it at www.bit.ly/btlecar. It’s not short range.

I also question its comparison to WiBro, UWB and Wi-Fi. WiBro is a variant of WiMax – a cellular technology, which Bluetooth low energy has nothing to do with. UWB and Wi-Fi are both shorter range technologies that concentrate on high throughput. Bluetooth low energy is likely to have longer range than either of these, but is optimised to send short pieces of information at intermittent intervals. Doing that, the range will have minimal effect on the battery life – it will last just as long at 50 metres as at 5 metres. That’s what it was designed for.

One other important piece of informaiton you’ll see in the TI video is that it only took an engineer three hours to put that demo together. That’s testament to the effort that has been put into Bluetooth low energy to make it the easier wireless standard to design with. Ever. That ease of use should mean that once the chips become available in the next few months, we’ll see a rapid rise of new products coming to market.

We’ve heard a lot of people talk about the Internet of Things over the past few years. Bluetooth low energy is about to turn that talk into reality.

shailesh

2

that's gr8 if bluetooth 4.0 is set to launch.i m just waiting for it badly.i want all the details of if or any pdf files

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