The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (basically the "owner" of the Bluetooth standard) yesterday announced its selection of the WiMedia Alliance multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (MB-OFDM) version of ultra-wideband (UWB) for integration with current Bluetooth wireless technology, thus taking the next step in its plan to create a version of the globally popular Bluetooth wireless technology with a high speed/high data rate option.
This new version of Bluetooth technology should meet the high-speed demands of synchronizing and transferring large amounts of data as well as enabling high quality video and audio applications for portable devices, multi-media projectors and television sets. At the same time, Bluetooth technology will continue catering to the needs of very low power applications such as mice, keyboards and mono headsets, enabling devices to select the most appropriate physical radio for the application requirements, thereby offering the best of both worlds.
Stated Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director, Bluetooth SIG: "As a
member-driven organization, it is the Bluetooth SIG's responsibility to
ensure it's attentive to its members' needs. Having considered the UWB
technology options, the decision ultimately came down to what our members
want, which is to leverage their current investments in both UWB and
Bluetooth technologies and meet the high-speed demands of their customers.
By working closely with the WiMedia Alliance to create the next version of
Bluetooth technology, we will enable our members to do just that."
It is critical that the UWB technology be compatible with Bluetooth radios
and maintain the core attributes of Bluetooth wireless technology Ã¢â‚¬â€œ low power,
low cost, ad-hoc networking, built-in security features, and ability to
integrate into mobile devices. Backwards compatibility with the over 500 million
Bluetooth devices currently on the market is also an important consideration.
The Bluetooth SIG is satisfied that MB-OFDM UWB technology, offered by the
WiMedia Alliance, is capable of meeting all of these requirements. The two
organizations are dedicated to working together to ensure that the combined
high-speed solution is optimized for mobile devices with very low power
"The Bluetooth community has been extremely successful at generating
strong brand recognition among users of high volume, lower data rate
computer, telecommunications and consumer products," said Stephen R. Wood,
president, WiMedia Alliance and UWB technology strategist at Intel. "The
WiMedia Alliance looks forward to providing suppliers of Bluetooth products
with a higher speed technology path that will enable the next generation of
exciting new portable data applications."
One of the key components to the agreement between the Bluetooth SIG and the
WiMedia Alliance will help UWB achieve global regulatory acceptance. Both
parties have agreed to develop a high speed, high data rate Bluetooth solution
that utilizes the unlicensed radio spectrum above 6 GHz. This move answers
concerns voiced by regulatory bodies in both Europe and Asia.
"Companies working with Bluetooth technology want to stay one step ahead
of consumer demand and deliver a wireless technology that meets the global
market needs for the personal area network Ã¢â‚¬â€œ today and in the future," said
John Barr, Ph. D., chairman of the board of directors, Bluetooth SIG, and
director, standards realization, Motorola. "There is now an opportunity for
the WiMedia Alliance to work with the Bluetooth SIG to define the Bluetooth
technology/UWB implementation that will work for the Bluetooth SIG, our
members and end users."
The Bluetooth SIG Core Specification Working Group Charter and UWB Feature
Requirements Document (FRD) have been approved by the Bluetooth SIG Board of
Directors, signaling that work may commence. The requirements set by the UWB
study group in the UWB FRD define what has to be done to create a solution
appropriate for adoption by the Bluetooth SIG. Both groups will immediately
begin work together on the specification draft within the Bluetooth SIG Core
Specification Working Group. The Bluetooth SIG estimates this process to last
approximately one year, with the first Bluetooth technology/UWB solution chip
sets available for prototyping in Q2 2007.
While the Bluetooth SIG hasn't
announced any plans about how fast the next generation Bluetooth standard might
be, UWB, which has yet to appear in consumer devices, enables wireless
transmissions at speeds equivalent to USB or FireWire cables at distances up to
3 meters (only). And this speed-incensement is seriously required! Was Bluetooth
fast enough to work with UMTS (e.g. a Notebook connected via Bluetooth to a UMTS
phone), Today's Bluetooth standard isn't fast enough to fulfill tomorrow's HSDPA
requirements (3.8 Mbit/s). But anyway, it's still a long way to get next
generation Bluetooth into the devices and the market.
Cheers ~ Arne