Molasses, snails and glaciers: none are slower than an organization developing a new wireless standard. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is no exception -- it's been nearly three years since it announced it would roll Wibree into Bluetooth and four months since it made Bluetooth 4.0 official, but still no dice. This week, the SIG says the low-power specification is ready for action, its minutiae finalized. However, fine print in the org's press release disagrees. The main reason for Bluetooth 4.0 was to include lower power devices, but that all-important integration is still pending a "before June 2010" completion date. That means we still won't see Bluetooth-toting cats till the end of the year, and we have no idea what SIG has accomplished in the meanwhile. Press release after the break.
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BLUETOOTH CORE SPECIFICATION VERSION 4.0 READY TO ROLL

New Specification Extends Range of Bluetooth Technology, Enables m-Health, Sports and Fitness, Security and Home Entertainment Wireless Markets

KIRKLAND, WA – April 20, 2010 – Today from its annual All Hands Meeting in Seattle, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) unveiled more information about its forthcoming Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0, with the hallmark feature of low energy technology. Bluetooth v4.0, expected to be brought to market by the end of Q2, will feature a powerful low energy mode designed to enable expansion of the technology in m-health, sports and fitness, security and home entertainment scenarios where button-cell battery devices proliferate.

"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.

Bluetooth v4.0 is like three specifications in one – Classic Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth low energy technology, and Bluetooth high speed technology– all which can be combined or used separately in different devices according to their functionality. For example, sensors like those in pedometers and glucose monitors will run only low energy technology, thus saving power, cost and space within the device. Watches will take advantage of both low energy technology while collecting data from fitness sensors on the body as well as Classic Bluetooth technology when sending that information to a PC, or separately displaying caller ID information when wirelessly connected to a mobile phone. Mobile phones and PCs, which support the widest range of uses, will utilize the full package with Classic, low energy and high speed technology running side by side.

As with previous versions of the specification, the range of the Bluetooth v4.0 radio may be optimized according to application. The majority of Bluetooth devices on the market today include the basic 30 foot, or 10 meter, range of the Classic Bluetooth radio, but there is no limit imposed by the Specification. With Bluetooth v4.0, manufacturers may choose to optimize range to 200 feet and beyond, particularly for in-home sensor applications where longer range is a necessity.

Bluetooth v4.0 was recently named one of the "10 Mobile Technologies to Watch in 2010 and 2011" by Gartner, Inc. Technologies chosen for the list were selected on their potential to evolve and impact short-term mobile strategies and policies. Specifically, Bluetooth v4.0 is cited to have significant impact on the fitness, healthcare and environmental control industries.

Availability
The specification for Bluetooth v4.0 with the hallmark feature of low energy technology was first introduced in December 2009. Samples of sensors utilizing this specification are available from some silicon manufacturers today. Integration of Bluetooth low energy wireless technology within the Bluetooth specification will be completed before June 30, 2010. Upon completion, mobile phone and PC manufacturers may enhance their Bluetooth product offerings with support for Bluetooth low energy wireless technology. End-user devices with Bluetooth v4.0 are expected to reach the market in late 2010 or early 2011.