Bluetooth 4.0 Spec: Low Power, Long Range

We may not be yet seeing Bluetooth 3.0 devices in the market but the specifications of Bluetooth 4.0 are already taking shape.

Power Consumption: Bluetooth 4.0 stresses on reducing the power consumption to fractions of what exists today. The power consumption would be low enough to be used in a range of low-tech devices such as pedometers, glucose meters, energy sensors, and Watches, all running from button batteries designed to last years.

Longer Range: The Bluetooth 4.0 specification also encourages the standard’s use at longer range, which will now be as far as 200 feet (61 metres), something very comparable to Wi-Fi.

“The low energy feature of Bluetooth v4.0 is truly groundbreaking,” said Gartner’s wireless analyst, Nick Jones, quoted by the Bluetooth SIG in its press release on version 4.0. “At Gartner, we identified it as the top mobile technology to watch for in 2010 primarily because of its ability to smash open the barriers to new markets for Bluetooth technology and consumer electronics device manufacturers. We’re excited to see this one hit the market.”

Bluetooth 4.0 devices will likely use the low-power, single-mode approach, or integrate this into the established capabilities of Bluetooth devices as dual-mode products. Evidently, version 4.0 would get two variants in end-user devices: high power (PCs, headsets, phones, and cameras) and low power (a raft of low-power uses like in clock, watches).

bluetooth 4

Bandwidth: More powerful hardware can use the regular 3Mbps Bluetooth mode, now dubbed Classic, or else the recently introduced high-speed mode that uses 802.11g Wi-Fi as a carrier for its data. The technique extends the range to as far as 200 feet and up to the realistically achievable speeds of Wi-Fi. The SIG noted that Bluetooth 4.0 doesn’t have an arbitrary maximum range and can go further depending on the particular hardware.

When?

Bluetooth 4.0 is due for release this summer, but its very unlikely that we would see any devices that comply with the standard by the end of 2010. Q1 2011 would be the time we would start getting devices.

After the arrival more efficient ways like WiFi, Bluetooth has now become a niche restricted to phone headsets, a few keyboards and phone-to-phone connections, plus a few vertical markets, the technology is barely used by the general public. Bluetooth 3.0 tried to handle the Bandwidth problem, Bluetooth 4.0 would give it a competitive low-power operation edge over the WiFi counterparts, and would again revive the demand and use.

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