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Bluetooth formally adopts low power standard

Starts certification for Version 4.0

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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has formally adopted the standard's Core Specification Version 4.0, which targets very low power networks, potentially vying with other systems like ZigBee. The new spec, originally released in January, is targeted at markets such as sensors for healthcare, and security and home networks.

The SIG has now opened its qualification program to any products claiming to support Version 4.0. "The finalization of Bluetooth low energy wireless technology within the Core Specification is a monumental achievement," said Michael Foley, executive director of the SIG.

The new technology, which is based on the WiBree platform originally developed by Nokia, will allow Bluetooth devices to run for years on standard coin-cell batteries. The standard also features enhanced range.

Kirsten West, principal analyst with WTRS, commented: "Bluetooth low energy will be a significant contributor to the overall wireless sensor network market, representing nearly half of all shipments in 2015. The advantage to this new protocol is that it is totally optimized for low power battery operation."

The technology supports short data packets (from eight to 27 octets) transmitted at 1Mbps, minimizing interference with the adaptive frequency hopping technique that is used in all versions of Bluetooth. Latency is a few milliseconds and range can exceed 100 meters, with AES-128 strong encryption and authentication.

Among the Bluetooth chip vendors supporting Version 4.0 are CSR and Broadcom. The former will use its modular BlueCore architecture to support both single- and dual-mode low power gadgets. The dual-mode chipsets will add a low power mode to cellphones and PCs, alongside classic Bluetooth (the current release is 3Mbps EDR). After that, single-mode chips will be targeted at specific products like sensors. Texas Instruments, Nordic Semiconductor and EML have also showed silicon.

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