Bluetooth 4.0 has been given the thumbs up and compliant devices will appear around the end of the year. The new specification brings with it higher transfer speeds but at lower energy consumption than current devices.
The ability to run Bluetooth on low-energy devices means that it can be used to connect small devices that have coin-sized, single batteries. These would be units that require long-living batteries, such as pedometers, watches and whole new range industrial, medical and in-home sensors. The example that the Bluetooth committee, or Special Interest Group (SIG), gives concerns personal fitness. Body sensors measuring glucose levels and a pedometer, for example, could communicate with a central hub built into a watch which would store and relay the data to a PC.
Bluetooth 4.0 is formed of three interlocking specifications: low energy, high speed and classic Bluetooth. Some units may only use one technology but others, like phones and PCs, may incorporate two or all three of the standards. With a maximum range of 200 feet (60 metres), the wider spread of Bluetooth will open up the concept of the personal area network (PAN) to a new generation of products.
Now the standard is finalised, there will be a bake-off in Barcelona in October where various manufacturers will test the interoperability of their products. This will be the first airing of many of the new products and should give an idea of the range of emerging innovations.