Low-energy Bluetooth standard on the way

Bluetooth radio links could soon start appearing in mobile health, sports, security and home entertainment equipment.

Version 4.0 of the standard is designed to work in equipment powered by button-cell batteries.

“Bluetooth v4.0 throws open the doors to a host of new markets for Bluetooth manufacturers and products such as watches, remote controls, and a variety of medical and in-home sensors," said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. "Many of these products run on button-cell batteries that must last for years versus hours and will also benefit from the longer range enabled by this new version of the Bluetooth specification."

The new standard incorporates aspects of basic, low-energy and high-speed Bluetooth technology, which can be put together in different ways depending upon the application. For example, sensors for glucose monitors would only use the low-energy part of the standard, while watches could use both the low-energy and basic Bluetooth functions to collect data from fitness sensors on the body and send it to a PC. Mobile phones might use all three aspects of the technology.

The range of the Bluetooth v4.0 radio can also be adjusted beyond the usual 10m of classic Bluetooth to beyond 60m, opening up in-home sensor applications.

“The low-energy feature of Bluetooth v4.0 is truly groundbreaking,” said Nick Jones, senior wireless analyst, Gartner. “At Gartner, we identified it as the top mobile technology to watch for in 2010 primarily because of its ability to smash open the barriers to new markets for Bluetooth technology and consumer electronics device manufacturers.”

The low energy aspects of the Bluetooth v4.0 specification were announced last December and samples of some sensors using the technology are available today, The full integration of the low-energy technology in to the Bluetooth specification is due to ve=be completed by June 30, 2010.

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