Bluetooth 3.0: it's about power, not speed

John C. Tanner
23 Apr 2009

Bluetooth 3.0 is here, and while it promises faster speeds, some industry players and analysts are already looking ahead to Bluetooth’s next big advance: low energy consumption.

The Bluetooth SIG formally adopted the “Bluetooth Core Specification Version 3.0 + High Speed (HS)” (a.k.a. Bluetooth 3.0) in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The latest version promises data speeds of up to 24 Mbps via the 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL) feature that allows paired Bluetooth 3.0 devices to open a parallel peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection if faster throughput is needed for, say, transferring a video file.

However, at the Tokyo event, developers also gave a preview of the Bluetooth low energy standard, which will be coming out in Q4 this year.

According to Nick Hunn, vice chairman of the Mobile Data Association (where he promotes the Bluetooth Low Energy Evangelisation Working Group), Bluetooth low energy will be ideal for “low-cost, battery-powered products, such as sports and fitness sensors, home alarms and medical devices”.

Hunn also says on his blog that Bluetooth low energy will save the US economy $300 million a year – thanks to a proximity function which measures the strength of a Bluetooth radio signal between devices and activates a warning when they’re too far apart … thus making lost laptops a thing of the past.

Hype? Try IMS Research analyst Fiona Thomson, who – reports Rethink Research – said in Tokyo that Bluetooth low energy “could be the fastest shipping wireless technology ever”, with 70% of Bluetooth phones using the standard by 2013.

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