Bluetooth 4.0 approved, will reach devices this year

First devices with Bluetooth 4.0 could be smart meters

The Bluetooth 4.0 low-power wireless networking specification has been approved, and the technology will start appearing in devices such as smart meters and laptops later this year, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group said on Wednesday.

Chips with the Bluetooth 4.0 standard have gone through a rigorous testing process, and the technology is being certified and licensed for use in chips and devices, said Mike Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, the standards-setting organization. Companies can now start designing and manufacturing devices using the standard.

The Bluetooth 4.0 standard is an update to the previous Bluetooth 3.0 wireless technology, which was announced in 2009. The new standard adds a low-power specification for transmitting small bursts of data over short ranges. The standard will also include the high-speed data transfer capabilities introduced with Bluetooth 3.0, which allows devices to jump on Wi-Fi 802.11 networks to transfer data at up to 25M bps (bits per second).

The technology could first make its way to watches, smart meters, pedometers and other gadgets that run on coin-cell batteries, Foley said. Laptops and smartphones could ultimately include Bluetooth 4.0 and be able to collect data from gadgets. That should help in activities such as monitoring health and energy usage, Foley said.

Wireless capabilities are continuously being added to gadgets like cameras to help them communicate with other devices. Technologies such as Wi-Fi maintain continued connectivity, which could affect the battery life of devices. Bluetooth 4.0 could be used for devices to exchange low-level information over short distances without using much energy.

There are other already wireless technologies that could compete with Bluetooth 4.0. The Nike+iPod kit uses proprietary technology to send quick bursts of information from a sensor in a Nike shoe to Apple's iPod and iPhone devices. In late June, Monster announced the Vision Max 3D glasses, which uses Zigbee Alliance's low-power wireless networking specification to communicate with a TV set.

The Bluetooth SIG has more than 13,000 member companies worldwide, including Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola and Nokia.

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