Almost two years after its last update, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) on Tuesday announced specs for version 3.0 of the wireless standard, with a focus on improved data speed and connection reliability, and better battery-life management. The speed boost to 24 Mbps from the current 3.0 Mbps comes via use of the 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer, which allows compatible gadgets that come with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios to exchange large files on the higher-speed (802.11) radio, without logging onto a direct Wi-Fi network or connecting through USB.
By combining the ease of use of Bluetooth tech with the established speed of 802.11, the new Bluetooth protocol increases the multitasking value and compatibility of many devices, and is a good step on the way to the long-promised era of the self-supportive electronics ecosystem. That means that when 3.0-enabled devices are released in 2010, we should expect video cameras, TVs, phones, and PCs with faster, one-button rich-media transfer options.
The ideal example of this vision come to life is that of the passive user leaving a video camera in the living room table to automatically transfer the video to its respective places — storage, media center, PC, and portable. No, 3.0 won’t take it that far, but it’ll bring it closer. Expect fast transfer features to also lead to better productivity from business users (sharing documents during a meeting or on the fly), and as Apple Insider notes, increased savings from electronics makers, which won’t have to build in support for Wi-Fi networking.
Since the most current, mature Bluetooth devices (like phones and headphones) are mobile, expect their next-generation versions to facilitate the merging of the web to TVs through heavy video, music, and communications downloads and services. Want to use Skype with your TV, using your trusty wireless ear piece? Yes, you do. Want to exchange entire music libraries between PMPs within seconds, or even play the same game, at the same time, using different devices? It will be easier through a better Bluetooth connection. Already, companies like Atheros have received certification for 3.0 applications that will help facilitate these data transfers.
If you currently own Bluetooth gadgets, hang onto them. Your earpiece should work with a phone stacked with 3.0 — you just won’t be able to get the high-speed transfers. For larger (and more flexible) hardware like PCs, expect new Bluetooth-enabled peripherals.
Bluetooth 3.0 won’t be the only fast-transfer new tech out there. Wireless USB, as well as Sony’s proprietary TransferJet protocol (expected to come in at a blistering 560 Mbps) will give chase. Specifications for Ultrawideband (UWB) tech, another fast standard, were recently acquired by SIG and it’s expected to be a part of the follow-up to Bluetooth 3.0.
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