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Bluetooth harnesses the speed of 802.11
Posted: 11-Feb-2008 [Source: Bluetooth SIG]

[Bluetooth SIG announces coupled solution to use 802.11 to send bulky data loads and then return to normal Bluetooth radio operation in efforts to achieve optimal performance of Bluetooth-enabled devices.]

Barcelona -- Wireless transfer of large format entertainment data -- music, video, and photos -- between devices at short range is imminent. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) today announced a new way it will provide for consumers' growing need for speed.

The Bluetooth SIG is developing an innovative method of radio substitution. It will allow the well known Bluetooth protocols, profiles, security and pairing to be used in consumer devices while achieving faster throughput with momentary use of a secondary radio already present in the device. This architecture, called 'Alternate MAC/PHY' by Bluetooth SIG members working on the specification, is taking on a two-phased approach as SIG member companies drive the specification forward.

"This is the wireless technology equivalent of 'low hanging fruit,' " said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director, the Bluetooth SIG. "What we're doing is taking classic Bluetooth connections -- using Bluetooth protocols, profiles, security and other architectural elements -- and allowing it to jump on top of the already present 802.11 radio, when necessary, to send bulky entertainment data, faster. When the speed of 802.11 is overkill, the connection returns to normal operation on a Bluetooth radio for optimal power management and performance."

In 2006, the Bluetooth SIG announced the selection of the WiMedia Alliance brand of ultra wideband technology as a high speed channel for Bluetooth technology. This development work continues between the two organizations in advance of widespread ultra wideband technology adoption -- expected to be co-located in many Bluetooth devices. In the meantime, however, the SIG will make use of IEEE 802.11, a technology already present in many of the devices demanding greater speeds.

This two-phased roadmap for higher speeds will allow for a steady evolution in Bluetooth devices utilizing the presence of 802.11 today while continuing preparations for the presence of ultra wideband in the near future. "We're committed to speedy wireless personal area network connections and we'll always be looking for the best near term and long term way to accomplish that," adds Foley. "The greatness of a generic alternate radio architecture being developed is that it's adaptable."

With the availability of high speed Bluetooth technology, device users can expect to move their entertainment data between their own devices and the trusted devices of friends, without the need for cables and wires. Some applications consumers will experience include:

* Wirelessly bulk synchronize music libraries between PC and MP3 player

* Bulk download photos to a printer or PC

* Send video files from camera or phone to computer or television

Meanwhile, Bluetooth devices will continue to offer the well known, low power and secure connections that make up the nearly 2 billion products already on the market. The core specification enabling the Alternate MAC/PHY is expected to be published to members in mid-2009 with work already well underway.

"The Bluetooth SIG is taking a logical step by applying Bluetooth protocols over an existing 802.11 radio to achieve efficient transfers of high data throughput applications," said Flint Pulskamp, wireless and mobile analyst at IDC. "Since Bluetooth and 802.11 already have significant traction in mobile devices, this coupled solution could prove to be an efficient interim solution, as the Bluetooth SIG continues to develop UWB for the future."

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