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Bluetooth SIG releases certifications for fitness devices aimed at runners and cyclists

Bluetooth SIG releases certifications for fitness devices aimed at runners and cyclists
Dana Wollman
Dana Wollman|@danawollman|August 27, 2012 11:11 PM

Fitness gadgets are great, but you never quite know what you're going to get when it comes to calorie counts, or a reading of how many miles you've run. That could change, though, thanks to a set of standards the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is adopting with regard to fitness devices. These two certifications, which apply to running and cycling gadgets, respectively, affect the way data (e.g., cadence, speed, distance) is transmitted to paired devices like smartphones, sports watches and cycling computers. As far as SIG is concerned, too, more standardization means OEMs will have an easier time bringing new products to market -- not that there's any current shortage of options to choose from.

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Bluetooth SIG Adopts Key Profiles for Sports and Fitness Market

New Profiles Extend Capabilities for Real-Time Running and Cycling Data Monitoring, Add Critical Functionality Previously Reserved for Proprietary Solutions

KIRKLAND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) today finalized standards that will accelerate the proliferation of Bluetooth® wireless technology sensors that measure speed and cadence for running and cycling activity. Made possible by Bluetooth v4.0 low energy technology, the recently approved standards will enable the next generation of Bluetooth Smart fitness devices. Companies can now quickly implement Bluetooth Smart sensors in sports devices to instantaneously transmit data such as running cadence, stride length, total distance, or cycling speed, distance, and pedal cadence to Bluetooth enabled devices like smart phones, sports watches, and cycling computers.

"The new Bluetooth Smart cycling and running profiles are another concrete step in establishing Bluetooth Smart as the clear standard for sports and fitness devices. Cyclists and runners will benefit from the innovative products that will follow."

Bluetooth technology already has significant momentum in the sports and fitness market, making it possible for products like the Nike+ FuelBand, Nike+ Basketball and Training shoes, Polar heart rate monitors, and many more to connect to the Bluetooth ecosystem. The new running and cycling standards will accelerate growth in this space. By allowing manufacturers to use standards-based protocols, the new profiles give companies the opportunity to quickly create innovative products that can connect to the vast array of Bluetooth enabled hub devices.

ABI Research, Inc. forecasts shipments of Bluetooth enabled sports and fitness devices will grow ten-fold from 2011 to 2016, totaling 278 million and representing over 60 percent of the total available market. According to ABI's Jonathan Collins, principal analyst in telematics and M2M technologies, this is being driven by the trend to move away from proprietary solutions and toward Bluetooth Smart devices.

Supporting Quotes

Suke Jawanda, chief marketing officer, Bluetooth SIG:

"Historically, sports and fitness sensors capable of tracking speed and cadence relied on proprietary technology, limiting their reach and functionality. The Running S&C and Cycling S&C profiles unlock these sensors, allowing companies to build products that can connect with the tens of millions of Bluetooth Smart Ready devices already in the market, and the hundreds of millions on the way in the coming quarters. As an OEM, if you want your product to connect with billions of products your customers likely already use on a daily basis, then Bluetooth technology is the obvious choice. A rich supplier ecosystem and our organization's continued dedication to perfecting Bluetooth profiles for the sports and fitness market is one of the many reasons Bluetooth technology is becoming the de facto wireless standard for low power sensor devices. Not only in this market, but in healthcare, home automation, and more."

Brian Bedrosian, director of deeply embedded wireless connectivity business, Broadcom:

"Bluetooth Smart is playing an important role in augmenting the value of smartphones by enabling consumers to interact with Bluetooth or Bluetooth Smart heart rate and blood pressure monitors, measurement sensors and other sports and fitness devices without significant impact on battery life. Broadcom continues to help drive the proliferation and integration of this exciting technology, which has demonstrated the potential to open up entirely new applications and markets for home health, fitness and diagnostics."

Paul Williamson, senior product marketing manager for health and fitness, CSR:

"Sports and fitness products are increasingly centered around the smartphone and provide increasing social engagement. With these two new profiles Bluetooth Smart is on the way to providing complete coverage of the sports and fitness market. CSR provides both running and cycling profiles in its latest µEnergy software development kit enabling the rapid development of fitness accessories."

Sumit Saraogi, product marketing manager, Cypress Semiconductor Corporation:

"We are pleased to see quick adoption of two new Bluetooth profiles for the sports and fitness market. Our PSoC products are well suited for Bluetooth low energy applications in this market, as their programmable analog and digital peripherals can interface with almost any sensor to provide integrated one-chip solutions to our customers."

Eric Dishman, fellow and general manager of health strategy and solutions, Intel

"Intel sees the approval of the Running and Cycling Speed and Cadence specifications as an important milestone in the transition of low-power wireless fitness sensors from proprietary to a standards-based solution using Bluetooth 4.0. Intel is proud to have played a part in this effort, which we believe will improve the experience and benefits of using fitness devices equipped with these important health- and fitness-sensing capabilities."

Geir Langeland, director of sales and marketing, Nordic Semiconductor:

"The sports and fitness market was one of the earliest adopters of ultra low power (ULP) wireless technology – particularly among serious athletes using proprietary sports watches and bike computers, for instance, to collect sensor data. What these new Bluetooth low energy cycling and running profiles will do is further extend the reach of ULP wireless to the maximum number of end users by making it even more easy, fun, and motivational to keep fit using a connected device such as a smartphone or tablet that most people will already own and that will have all the required Bluetooth wireless technology already built-in."

Marco Suvilaakso, group product director, Polar Electro Oy:

"The new Bluetooth Smart cycling and running profiles are another concrete step in establishing Bluetooth Smart as the clear standard for sports and fitness devices. Cyclists and runners will benefit from the innovative products that will follow."

Sid Shaw, worldwide business development and marketing manager, wireless connectivity, Texas Instruments:

"Bluetooth low energy is a natural fit for sports and fitness devices, which require long battery life while maintaining a small footprint for space-constrained equipment or wearables. Runners and cyclists of all levels will now be able to better track, analyze and improve their performance by wirelessly sending sensor data to one of the growing number of Bluetooth v4.0-enabled smartphones or tablets on the market. The new profiles are a great step to expanding the Bluetooth low energy market into new applications, equipment and use-cases."

Call For Participation

Registration for the Sports and Fitness Working Group and Sports and Fitness Bluetooth Ecosystem Team (BET) are open to Bluetooth SIG Associate and Promoter members. Members are encouraged to join either or both of the groups. Those interested in distilling and prioritizing key scenarios and identifying ways to make products better with Bluetooth technology should join the BET. Members interested in working directly on the specification itself should join the Working Group. For more information on becoming a member, visit the Membership page at www.bluetooth.org. To learn more about opportunities for Bluetooth technology in the sports and fitness market, visit www.bluetooth.com/sports.