With the purpose of helping manufacturers plan for future products and setting industry expectations, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) today unveiled a three-year roadmap outlining a series of enhancements to the Bluetooth specification. Updates in the areas of performance, security, power optimization and usability will help maintain Bluetooth technology's position as the leading personal connectivity technology and establish a role in new markets.
Bluetooth technology is currently the leading and only proven short-range wireless technology, used widely for personal area networking with devices like mobile phones, PCs, PDAs, headsets, and automotive hands-free systems. While Bluetooth technology is designed for personal area network applications, planned enhancements increase Bluetooth technology's applicability in new areas such as sensor scenarios, streaming audio applications, multi-player gaming and ad-hoc file sharing.
"This roadmap is the result of collaboration between the Bluetooth SIG's membership and staff to address future market demands and set the stage for Bluetooth wireless technology over the next two to three years. It will not only help manufacturers set their own product roadmaps but will also define Bluetooth technology's place in the wireless world," said Dr. Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. "We don't believe there is a one- size-fits-all wireless technology and want to clearly outline Bluetooth technology's direction and core competencies."
Building on Bluetooth technology's inherent strengths of low power, low cost, built-in security, robustness, ease-of-use and ad-hoc capabilities, the SIG plans the following advancements for the technology:
2004 -- Performance and Power Consumption
The Bluetooth SIG is expecting an increasing need in the coming years for the technology to transfer larger data-intensive files wirelessly between personal devices, handle streaming CD-quality audio and run multiple, simultaneous device connections. The 2004 section of the roadmap will help address the necessary speed and through-put for these types of Bluetooth applications. Bluetooth Version 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) will triple the technology's performance with data rates of up to three megabits per second (mbps) while at the same time reducing power consumption.
2005 -- Quality of Service (QoS), Security and Power Consumption
In 2005, the Bluetooth SIG will test and release a new version of the specification that will further enhance the usability of multi-device scenarios, improve overall security, and dramatically improve power consumption, enabling Bluetooth sensors to last for multiple years on a single battery.
QoS enhancements address a need for more Bluetooth devices to be connected and run simultaneously, without latency or interference. With QoS, devices communicate their data transfer needs and traffic is prioritized accordingly. For example, Bluetooth technology will recognize that printing can handle a one second delay while a mouse or stereo headset cannot tolerate much latency.
This specification will enhance privacy during pairing by suggesting longer, alphanumeric pins, dramatically reducing the possibility for a security breach.
Additional improvements in power consumption, as well as an increase in the piconet maximum from seven slaves and one master to 255 devices plus master, will make Bluetooth technology well-suited for sensor scenarios such as home security systems and industrial automation applications. Bluetooth technology has the added benefit of allowing users to interface with sensor systems using other Bluetooth enabled devices. For instance, a user could disarm a home security system by pushing a button on a mobile phone, or a factory manager could monitor manufacturing processes by connecting sensors to a PC.
2006 -- Multi-cast, Security and Performance
In the 2006 update to the Bluetooth specification, the Bluetooth SIG will continue to improve on usability, security and performance.
Multi-cast capabilities will allow the same message to be sent to multiple devices one time, simultaneously allowing for improved usability and power consumption in applications like multiplayer gaming, multiple stereo headphones and speakers.
Already a remote risk, privacy enhancements will make it impossible for a device in non-discoverable mode to be located in even the most advanced, multi-year attack.
Performance enhancements will increase the range of very low power Bluetooth enabled sensors to approximately 100 meters.
Bluetooth Version 2.0 + EDR was also announced today after a six-month prototyping phase. Products with EDR are expected in the next six to nine months. The next two versions of the specification are expected to have similar timing with testing completed and the specification available at the end of each year.