Transferring large files without wires will become practical with a new Bluetooth version that uses installed Wi-Fi radios
A faster Bluetooth version using Wi-Fi based technology to boost speeds above 20 Mbps will be launched this month after approval from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.
The current Bluetooth version, 2.1, already goes up to 2.1Mbps, but the technology is usually only used for transferring contact information and low-resolution images, as well as audio communication with headsets. Bluetooth 3.0 will piggy-back on Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN) technology installed in devices to get higher speeds, so it can be used routinely for handling larger video and music files.
Two devices with Bluetooth 3.0 will be able to communicate and set up a faster link between them using 802.11, to transfer larger files. This is an ad hoc connection between the two devices, and does not require either device to join another wireless LAN,
Because Bluetooth 3.0 does not have a formal agreement from the Wi-Fi Alliance which promotes 802.11 wireless LAN technology under the term “Wi-Fi”, the Bluetooth SIG refers to the new version as using 802.11, but the new Bluetooth will be using the same well-proven technology that is now widely available in phones, and on all laptops.
After the data transfer, the devices return to the other radio. Wi-Fi Net News explains that 802.11-based Bluetooth emerged after the failure of an effort to use the experimental ultrawideband (UWB) technology which promised to deliver links up to 1Gbps but has effectively failed to emerge in the market.
A list of the chip makers that will be using Bluetooth 3.0 is expected to arrive with the formal announcement on April 21. Intel, however, is sure to be on board.
Meanwhile, Intel’s “Cliffside” project explores PAN technology. On the Intel blog, Cliffside is described as a way to wirelessly sync an MP3 player with video files, connect a laptop to a television to view HD movies, or connect laptops to share files and chat when an access point isn’t available. The blog also offers of a video look at Cliffside at work.
Reportedly, Bluetooth 3.0 will additionally feature EPC (Enhanced Power Control) to increase the robustness of the connection and prevent unwanted disconnects.
Michelle Maisto contributed to this article.