Volcanic ashes may have stranded a lot of Europeans trying to make it to a Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting in Seattle this week, but it’s not going to stop Version 4.0 from getting its time in the sun.
At its annual All Hands Meeting today, the Bluetooth SIG released more information on its forthcoming Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0, with the big feature being low energy technology. That should help Bluetooth’s further expansion into markets like m-health, sports and fitness, security and home entertainment where button-cell batteries proliferate.
“I think we’re going to see an explosion of new products,” says Mike Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, ticking off items like pedometers, heart rate monitors, watches and household sensors.
Bluetooth designers first will create interoperable prototypes built on the new version of the technology and plan to thoroughly test them before anything gets released to the commercial market. Some initial products may hit the market later this year but most of them will come in the 2011 timeframe and beyond, Foley says.
Probably one of the first products will be related to proximity applications because it’s fairly simple – such as devices that will automatically lock or unlock a PC depending on the situation or beep if a cell phone moves a certain range.
How much less power the 4.0 devices will use compared with existing devices depends on the use case, he says. The target products are meant to be ones that report small amounts of information every once in a while, as opposed to a headset that needs an ongoing connection during a phone call. A lot of the “magic” is in how a device is set to wake up and send information quickly, then power down, he says.
In the area of smart energy, competing short-range technologies like ZigBee are gaining traction; Bluetooth 4.0 also will compete with some proprietary technologies. “One of the key strengths Bluetooth brings is a standardized solution,” Foley says.
Some European airports were starting to come back to life today but many flights still remained canceled. According to the Bluetooth SIG, about a third of the expected attendees were unable to make it to this week’s event in Seattle, which is the SIG’s largest member meeting of the year. Under more normal conditions, organizers would expect around 250 or 300 attendees.
The Bluetooth SIG has been working on Version 4 for about two and a half years. It originally started as a project within Nokia called Wibree that was contributed to the SIG.