The rumors were true, and today's the day that the Bluetooth SIG gets official with the latest, greatest version of Bluetooth. Bluetooth 3.0 + HS, as it'll be called, promises to be markedly faster than prior iterations thanks to the reliance on 802.11, which is the same protocol used by WiFi modules, routers, etc. The new standard obviously catapults Bluetooth into a new dimension; rather than being good for nothing more than sending images from one phone to another or syncing a fitness module to a DAP, v3.0 is nimble enough to handle camcorder-to-HDTV, PC-to-PMP and UMPC-to-printer transfers. In fact, the inclusion of the 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL) provides increased throughput of data transfers "at the approximate rate of 24Mbps." We had sit-downs with Mike Foley (executive director of the Bluetooth SIG) and Atheros CTO Bill McFarland in order to find out a few more details about plans for the protocol -- if you're eager to hear what they had to say, not to mention see a demonstration of BT 3.0 at work, follow us past the break.
We asked Mike what the major differences between v3.0 and Bluetooth 2.1 were, and we also prodded for any hints on what the future may hold. In regard to power consumption, he did confess that sending massive amounts of data over Bluetooth 3.0 would use more power (naturally), but given that the 802.11 radio -- which is partnered with a Bluetooth module -- can remain off until a transfer takes place, the idle power usage is actually remarkably low. Also of note, Mr. Foley admitted that a low-power specification of Bluetooth 3.0 was on the table, and we should be hearing more about that within the next year or so.
We also took the opportunity to ask about firmware upgradability, and we were quite surprised with the answer. In theory, at least, it is possible to upgrade certain Bluetooth 2.1 modules to v3.0, but you can pretty much forget about it happening on portable devices (cellphones, PMPs, etc.). Computers, on the other hand, stand a mild chance of being upgraded so long as they're equipped with a Bluetooth 2.1 module and an 802.11 WiFi radio. He couldn't elaborate on which system makers would look into rolling out firmware upgrades for consumers, but at least there's an off chance that your existing system could get upgraded.
As for end products, we can definitely expect Bluetooth 3.0 dongles for adding it to systems that are currently operating without, and while next-generation cellphones, PMPs, UMPCs, etc. will obviously transition to BT 3.0 in due time, we could also see it infiltrating camcorders, cameras, televisions, projectors and external hard drives (among other things). As of today, Broadcom, CSR and Atheros have all agreed to join in on getting getting silicon solutions to device manufacturers, and if development and testing goes well, consumers can expect wares to be on the market within 9 to 12 months.
BLUETOOTH TECHNOLOGY GETS FASTER WITH BLUETOOTH 3.0
Bluetooth SIG Adds Speed, Bandwidth via 802.11 with Version 3.0 of the Global Wireless Standard
TOKYO – April 22, 2009 – From its annual All Hands Meeting in Tokyo this week, the Bluetooth SIG <http://www.bluetooth.com> formally adopted Bluetooth Core Specification Version 3.0 + High Speed (HS) <http://www.bluetooth.com/Bluetooth/Products/Bluetooth_High_Speed_Technology.htm> , or Bluetooth 3.0. This latest iteration of the popular short-range wireless technology fulfills the consumers' need for speed while providing the same wireless Bluetooth experience – faster. Manufacturers of consumer electronics and home entertainment devices can now build their products to send large amounts of video, music and photos between devices wirelessly at speeds consumers expect.
Bluetooth 3.0 gets its speed from the 802.11 radio protocol. The inclusion of the 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL) provides increased throughput of data transfers at the approximate rate of 24 Mbps. In addition, mobile devices including Bluetooth 3.0 + HS will realize increased power savings due to enhanced power control built in.
"Like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, this latest version was 'born to go fast,' said Mike's Blog <http://www.bluetooth.com/Bluetooth/SIG/Mikes_Blog_1.htm> , Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. "Utilizing 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 3.0 + HS products will get faster exchange of information without changing how they connect. We are excited to expand the possibilities of the PAN."
This newest version of Bluetooth technology builds on the inherent qualities of the current 2.1 + EDR version, including Simple Secure Pairing and built-in, automatic security. And as with all versions of theBluetooth specification, v3.0 + HS provides developers, manufacturers and consumers with the benefit of backwards compatibility, enabling both the expansion and enhancement of this technology with every new specification release. Once products reach the market, the easiest way for consumers to learn which devices are compatible with other Bluetooth enabled devices is to visit the Bluetooth Gadget Guide <http://gadgetguide.bluetooth.com/> .
With the availability of Bluetooth version 3.0 + HS, consumers can expect to move large data files of videos, music and photos between their own devices and the trusted devices of others, without the need for cables and wires. Some applications consumers will experience include:
· Wirelessly bulk synchronize music libraries between PC and music player or phone
· Bulk download photos to a printer or PC
· Send video files from camera or phone to computer or television
The Bluetooth SIG's formal adoption of the specification is only the first step in the product lifecycle. News out today from wireless chip manufacturers and Bluetooth SIG member companies Atheros <http://www.atheros.com> , Broadcom <http://www.broadcom.com> and CSR <http://www.csr.com> shows the second step – getting silicon solutions to device manufacturers – is already underway. End products for consumers are expected to be in the market in 9 to 12 months.
This new specification release includes several major enhancements (learn more here <http://bluetooth.com/Bluetooth/Technology/Basics.htm> - page requires member login):
· Generic Alternate MAC/PHY (AMP)
· 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL)
· Generic Test Methodology
· Enhanced Power Control
· Unicast Connectionless Data
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. 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 over two 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 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 group companies Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Toshiba, along with over 11,000 Associate and Adopter member companies. The Bluetooth SIG, Inc. headquarters are located in Bellevue, Washington, U.S.A. For more information please visit www.bluetooth.com <http://www.bluetooth.com> <http://www.bluetooth.com/ <http://www.bluetooth.com/> > .
The Bluetooth word mark and logo are registered trademarks and are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc.