Bluetooth v4.0 Enables Low-Power, High-Speed Wireless Devices

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The core specifications for Bluetooth v4.0, a technology declared one of the "10 Mobile Technologies to Watch in 2010 and 2011" by Gartner based on its perceived potential to evolve and impact short-term mobile strategies and policies, have been finalized by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). The next-generation Bluetooth wireless protocol promises lower power consumption and faster transmission speeds than existing Bluetooth.

Bluetooth is the less-capable, but still ubiquitous cousin of Wi-Fi. It is an open wireless technology standard used for transmitting data over short distances using short-length radio waves. It is the technology responsible for elevators full of business professionals with little device plugged into their ears appearing to talk to themselves, and the technology found in many vehicles to pair with mobile phones and provide hands-free communications.

Many wireless computer peripherals rely on Bluetooth as well. Wireless keyboards, mice, and headsets enable users to be comfortable and productive at the same time--untethered by oppressive cords getting tangled and restricting movement.

"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. 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," said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG in a press release.

Bluetooth v4.0 is described by the Bluetooth SIG as a versatile combination of three different Bluetooth protocols--the classic Bluetooth we know and love, the low-energy Bluetooth, and the high-speed Bluetooth. The three faces of Bluetooth v4.0 can be implemented individually or in combination with each other.

One of the defining characteristics of Bluetooth--especially compared with Wi-Fi--is the short range. Standard Bluetooth devices are generally restricted to about a 30 foot range in order to maintain the wireless connection. With Bluetooth v4.0, it's possible to optimize the range of Bluetooth devices up to 200 feet or more.

The Bluetooth SIG expects the integration of classic Bluetooth with the low-energy Bluetooth specification by June 30, 2010. Devices built with the Bluetooth v4.0 protocol are expected to be available by late 2010 or early 2011.

Tony Bradley is co-author of Unified Communications for Dummies . He tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW . You can follow him on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at .

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