Bluetooth 4.0 Specification Gets Official

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has completed its promising specification for Bluetooth 4.0, though we’ll have to wait until the end of the year to buy devices that use the new technology.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) yesterday announced the formal adoption of Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0, with the hallmark feature, low energy technology. This final step signals to Bluetooth SIG members that the Bluetooth SIG Qualification Program is now open for qualification of all Bluetooth product types to the Version 4.0 Specification. However, we’ll have to wait until the end of the year to buy devices that use the new technology.

Announcing the completion of Bluetooth 4.0 at its all-hands meeting in Seattle on Tuesday, the Bluetooth SIG is touting the spec for its ability to work with low-energy devices, such as watches and health sensors. According to the SIG, the new 4.0 core specification should allow devices to run on coin-cell batteries “for years,” with a new ultra-low-power duty mode. But Bluetooth 4.0 will also provide higher speeds for peripherals to communicate with mobile phones, computers, and other gadgets.

First unveiled last December, Bluetooth 4.0 actually offers three specifications in one, all of which can work individually or in tandem, according to the Bluetooth SIG. Classic Bluetooth is the familiar standard that wirelessly connects peripherals with other devices at a speed of around 3 megabits per second (Mbps).

Low-energy Bluetooth technology will be used to connect low-power devices, such as watches and pedometers, that need to run for a year or more on the same small coin-cell battery. High-speed Bluetooth will use 802.11g Wi-Fi to carry its signal and could offer ranges as far as 200 feet and transfer rates comparable to those of current Wi-Fi standards. High-speed Bluetooth should deliver enough oomph to let us transfer our video, music, and photos between our phones, cameras, computers, and TVs.

The Bluetooth SIG seems especially keen on the new spec’s ability to support medical, health, and fitness devices. For example, Bluetooth 4.0 could communicate with sensors used in pedometers or glucose monitors, explained the SIG, thereby saving power, cost, and space in those devices. Watches using Bluetooth 4.0 could collect information from fitness sensors connected to someone’s body and send that data to a phone or PC.

“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 SIG, in a statement. “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.”

Manufacturers of Bluetooth products have until the end of June to test the new specification and start integrating it into their products. As a result, cool new devices running Bluetooth 4.0 won’t be ready for us to buy until the end of the year or the beginning of 2011.

About Bluetooth Wireless Technology

Bluetooth wireless technology is the global short-range wireless standard for personal connectivity of a broad range of electronic devices. The technology continues to evolve, building on its inherent strengths – small-form factor radio, low power, low cost, built-in security, robustness, ease-of-use, and ad hoc networking abilities.

This evolution now provides manufacturers and consumers with three options for connecting wirelessly – Classic Bluetooth technology for use in a wide range of consumer electronics; Bluetooth high speed technology for the transfer of video, music and photos between phones, cameras, camcorders, PCs and TVs; and Bluetooth low energy technology for low power sensor devices and new web services within the healthcare, fitness, security, home entertainment, automotive and automation industries.

More than eight new Bluetooth enabled products are qualified every working day and more than 19 million Bluetooth units are shipping per week. There are nearly three billion Bluetooth devices in the marketplace and that number climbs daily, making it the only proven wireless choice for developers, product manufacturers, and consumers worldwide.

About Bluetooth Low Energy Wireless Technology

Bluetooth low energy technology is a new low energy enhancement to the Bluetooth wireless technology Core Specification that paves the way to a vast new market for watches, remote controls, and healthcare and sports sensors.

It has the potential to communicate with the hundreds of millions of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones, PCs and PDAs that are shipped each year. Consuming minimal power, it offers long-lasting connectivity, dramatically extending the range of potential applications and opening the door to brand new web services.

Bluetooth low energy features ultra-low peak, average and idle mode power consumption; ultra-low cost plus small size for accessories and human interface devices (HIDs); minimal cost and size addition to handsets and PCs; global, intuitive and secure multi-vendor interoperability.

About the Bluetooth SIG

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), comprised of leaders in the telecommunications, computing, consumer electronics, automotive and network industries, is driving development of Bluetooth wireless technology and bringing it to market.

The Bluetooth SIG includes Promoter member companies Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Toshiba, along with over 13,000 Associate and Adopter member companies. The Bluetooth SIG, Inc. headquarters are located in Kirkland, Washington, U.S.A. [Bluetooth SIG via Engadget and PC Mag]

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