Fast, Wi-Fi Based Bluetooth 3.0 Arrives On Schedule

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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has finally adopted 3.0, a much zippier version of the wireless data transfer solution.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG)  is using the 802.11 radio protocol to enable transfer of much larger files, and offers better power use. And SIG member, Broadcom already has projects in the works.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) formally adopted the Bluetooth Core Specification Version 3.0 High Speed (HS) – or, Bluetooth 3.0 – during its All Hands Meeting in Tokyo on 22 April, as predicted earlier this month.

The long-awaited Bluetooth 3.0 hikes up transfer speeds from 3Mbps to 23Mbps, through the use of the 802.11 radio protocol. The connection is not technically Wi-Fi; it works through two Bluetooth modules communicating and agreeing to switch to 802.11, without actually joining a Wi-Fi network.

“Utilising the 802.11 radio was a natural choice as it provides efficiencies for both our members and consumers – members get more function out of the two radios they are already including in devices, and consumers with Bluetooth v3.0 HS products will get faster exchange of information without changing how they connect,” said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, in a statement.

While Bluetooth was handy for transferring a camera phone photo to a PC, Bluetooth 3.0’s speeds will make it possible to quickly share an album of photos, transfer a video between a camcorder and a TV, or download a complete music library from a PC to an MP3 player. The new version additionally offers improved power savings, Simple Secure Pairing and built-in security, and is backward compatible.

The Bluetooth SIG puts the number of Bluetooth devices on the market at more than two billion – a number likely to rise, as Bluetooth SIG member companies begin adopting the new standard.

Broadcom, for example, announced on 22 April that its Bluetooth combo chip technology and associated BTE software have been qualified as compliant with the ratified Bluetooth 3.0 HS. The vendor said Bluetooth 3.0 would enable it to offer original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) products that feature the convenience of high-speed data transfer with reduced board space, power consumption and cost. Products featuring Bluetooth 3.0 are expected to reach consumers within nine to 12 months.

The Bluetooth community adopted the established Wi-Fi technology for faster Bluetooth when a more radical contender, ultra-wideband failed to materialise in usable products in time. Ironically, the much delayed UWB finally emerged in products this week, in the form of the eccentric sharing device, Leyio.

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