April 22, 2009 To further accelerate the increasingly wired world we find ourselves in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has officially launched the Bluetooth 3.0 + HS specification, which ups the transfer rate from a top speed of 3 Mbps for the current 2.0 + EDR standard to a rate of 24 Mbps. The SIG says latest iteration of the popular short-range wireless technology will enable the high-speed transmission of large amounts of data such as photos, music and even video between devices and has attracted interest from not only computer and mobile phone manufacturers, but also television manufacturers.

The new Bluetooth 3.0 gets its speed from the 802.11 radio protocol with the inclusion of the 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL) providing 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. Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, said, ”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.”

According to the Bluetooth SIG there are over two billion Bluetooth devices currently in the marketplace and with more than 19 million units shipping per week backwards compatibility with previous versions was a must, so Bluetooth 3.0 builds on the inherent qualities of the current 2.1 + EDR version, including Simple Secure Pairing and built-in, automatic security while enabling both the expansion and enhancement of the technology. The new standard also includes enhanced power control features built-in to allow for increased power savings in devices utilizing the technology and, for the tech savvy the new standard also includes Generic Alternate MAC/PHY (AMP), Generic Test Methodology and Unicast Connectionless Data.

While the current Bluetooth version has proven popular in the transmission of audio data between devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players and headsets, the SIG anticipates the increase in speed of the new standard will see a range of new applications that currently rely on USB as the preferred method or transmission. These include the wireless bulk synchronization of music libraries between a PC and music player or phone, bulk downloading of photos to a printer or PC and sending video files from a camera or phone to a computer or TV. There’s no doubt consumers have embraced wireless devices and the freedom such devices they provide and although the new standard is sure to be widely adopted, it is also likely to face some stiff competition from Wireless USB – an emerging short-range standard that uses ultrawideband (UWB) technology to achieve claimed speeds of up to 480Mbps between devices within ten feet of each other. Even though for the moment Bluetooth is opting for the tried and true 802.11 protocol, if UWB proves viable Mike Foley says, “It could be considered for a version of Bluetooth technology down the road.”

The Bluetooth SIG says wireless chip manufacturers are already shipping chips to device manufacturers so consumers should start to see devices using the Bluetooth 3.0 standard in 9 – 12 months. We here at Gizmag are rubbing our hands together in anticipation of the gadgety delights the new standard should provide.

Darren Quick

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