February 11, 2008

Bluetooth to Get a Boost from Wi-Fi Technology

Bluetooth wireless technology may get a speed boost next year by taking advantage of already available Wi-Fi technology.

In 2006, a faster channel for Bluetooth using a different radio technology, ultra-wideband, was announced, but its delays in development caused the Bluetooth Special Interest Group to begin looking at Wi-Fi too.

Michael Foley, director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, said the first devices with the technology could be available by the middle of next year.

The industry group behind Bluetooth, which has more than 10,000 member companies, plans to announce Monday that it is pursuing the technology and will make it available next year, according to Associated Press.

Some laptops and other products already make use of both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, but not collectively. This new advancement still under development would most likely combine Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities using a single chip.

"It does appear that the first products ... are going to be Bluetooth-Wi-Fi, and our members want to take advantage of that," Foley said, adding that all the major makers of Bluetooth chips are participating in the project.

The combination devices will use the regular low-power Bluetooth radios to recognize each other and establish connections. If they need to transfer a large file, they will be able to turn on their Wi-Fi radios, and turn them off to save power after finishing the transfer, Foley said.

While it started out as a specific radio technology, Bluetooth is turning into an umbrella standard for a variety of different radio technologies. Apart from the high-speed flavors, the SIG has incorporated an ultra-low-power wireless technology developed by Nokia Corp. and previously known as Wibree, according to Associated Press. Products like watches and pedometers that use that technology are also expected to hit the market next year.


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