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CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth SIG announces Bluetooth Version 2.1 + EDR [UPDATE]
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 27.03.07 - 21:07:42 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 8719x
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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) today announced at CTIA Wireless 2007 details of a new specification which will continue the evolution of the short-range wireless technology and enhance the consumer experience.
The Bluetooth Core Specification Version 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) will soon be ready for members to develop products that take advantage of numerous enhancements. The new version of the specification adds improved pairing which makes the initial connection of Bluetooth devices easier for all users by reducing the number of steps in the pairing process. This enhancement will appeal to Bluetooth technology's broad range of users, from the technically savvy to the technically adverse.

Furthermore, Version 2.1 + EDR should reduce power consumption of the already extremely low power consumption in many scenarios to increase the battery life of devices like mice and keyboards by up to five times, optimizing Bluetooth technology for consumer devices where ultra low power is an important consideration.

"We brought together usability, technical, security and marketing experts from our member companies and developed a system where the initial one-time pairing of devices can be done in a matter of seconds with fewer steps. This new version makes pairing Bluetooth devices easy for anyone to do. We also significantly increased security of the pairing process and kept the impact on device and silicon manufacturers to an absolute minimum, to maintain low cost and continue the high degree of innovation for Bluetooth products," said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG.

"Bluetooth technology is shipping today at a rate of over 13 million devices per week and has an installed base of 1 billion devices. Improved pairing and lower power consumption will enhance the Bluetooth experience for all users and speed the technology's growth to the next billion Bluetooth devices," said John R. Barr, Ph.D., chairman of the Bluetooth SIG Board of Directors and director of Standards Realization for Motorola.

Improved Pairing - Currently, there are many variations of the user experience when connecting Bluetooth devices, either for a one-time, permanent pairing or for ad-hoc file sharing. The experience depends on several factors, from the ease of finding menus on different devices to the use of security features. The improved pairing provides a consistent and intuitive pairing solution that includes finding devices, securing the link and authenticating the devices. The improved pairing process reduces the steps for the user, improves the security, and establishes the connection in only a few seconds.

The improved pairing also takes the burden off the user to come up with a long, personal identification number (PIN) to ensure a secure connection. Instead, users achieve the effective encryption strength of a 16-digit alphanumeric code without any user interaction. For example, pairing a Bluetooth headset and mobile phone is as easy as turning on the headset, selecting "Add Headset" from the phone menu, and then watching the phone confirm it has found, connected with an encrypted link and paired the headset. To prevent any threat of a "Man in the Middle" attack, a Bluetooth device utilizing simple pairing can provide an additional security layer by generating a six-digit passkey that the user enters to verify control of both devices. This passkey is different from a PIN code in that it is provided by the initiating device and unique to each connection sequence so that the user does not have to create or retain any codes to enjoy secure communication.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology may also be used in the new pairing system whereby a user would hold two devices together at a very short range to start the quick pairing process.

Enhanced Power Optimization - Bluetooth Version 2.1 + EDR offers further optimized power consumption through a feature called Sniff Subrating which increases current battery life by up to five times in many products like mice, keyboards, watches, home sensor networks and medical devices. With further reduced power consumption, Bluetooth technology strengthens its position as the only viable wireless standard for connecting consumer devices that value low power consumption, low cost and ad-hoc connectivity.

The Bluetooth SIG Working Groups are quickly integrating improved pairing and other specification features into the Bluetooth profiles. All devices with Bluetooth Version 2.1 + EDR will be backwards compatible with all earlier Bluetooth specifications and will support pairing techniques employed by devices without the improved pairing feature. The Bluetooth SIG is continuing its work with the WiMedia Alliance to incorporate ultra-wideband technology into the next version of the specification. This joint work will create a high-speed Bluetooth channel, thereby strengthening the position of Bluetooth technology and combining the best of both worlds by utilizing the well established functionality of Bluetooth technology with the exciting possibilities of higher speed technology.

Update: Gear Live has a pretty good 9 min. video which previews all the Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR features (thanks to Jasper for the reminder).

Cheers ~ Arne

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