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7/7/2010
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Bluetooth 4 Spec Cuts Power Consumption

The approved wireless networking specification will allow devices to transmit low-energy, short data packets at 1 Mb per second.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has approved version 4.0 of the wireless networking specification, giving device manufacturers the tools to take advantage of the spec's low-power technology.

The hallmark feature in the latest Bluetooth spec makes it possible to transmit low-energy, short data packets at 1 Mb per second between devices. Applications, for example, would include a Bluetooth-enabled sensor sending physiological data, such as heart rate, to a wrist device worn by an athlete.

The technology would also have applications in measuring energy use and in security, healthcare and home entertainment systems. In general, the low-power capability is meant to enable a battery life up to one year for small devices powered by coin-cell batteries.

"The finalization of Bluetooth low energy wireless technology within the Core Specification is a monumental achievement," Michael Foley, executive director of Bluetooth SIG, said in a statement released Tuesday.

Market research firm West Technology Research Solutions said the low-power feature would be a significant contributor to the wireless sensor network market. The firm predicts the technology will represent nearly half of all sensor shipments in 2015.

Bluetooth SIG has released for device manufacturers test documentation, including requirements and tools, to qualify products as v4.0 compliant. Included in the tools is the ability to test devices against Bluetooth v4.0 devices from SIG's device library.

Bluetooth SIG has more than 13,000 member companies, including Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola and Nokia. The organization's wireless technology competes with proprietary products and another low-power communication specification called ZigBee.

The ZigBee Alliance in May announced the certification of more than a dozen products supporting the free public standard.

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