Wanted: Killer app for Bluetooth SIG (still)
$23,500 reward, citizens
The Bluetooth SIG is looking for applications that use the wireless technology in more interesting ways than wireless headsets or keyboards, and is offering at least $23,500 as an incentive.
The idea is to make use of the Bluetooth technology, already embedded in phones and PCs, to do something interesting.
The best application gets a cheque for $15,000, while second and third get $5,000 and $2,500 respectively; "honourable mention" entries get a grand. That's for a complete application, which has to be submitted by 10 December and make use of at least one Bluetooth profile.
The competition is billed as the "first annual" event, so if you can't get it ready in time then you should be able to try again in 2011. But this year's winner will, no doubt, be selling their application by then - ideally to one of the SIG members who are obviously interested in promoting the more interesting ways of using wireless connectivity.
Bluetooth has achieved a level of ubiquity: only the most basic handset now lacks Bluetooth support these days. Still, few people are using it for anything other than headsets or car kits. Bluetooth keyboards (and mice!) can connect to a surprising range of phones, but not a lot of people can see the point in that.
So the SIG isn't really looking for new Bluetooth devices (though they'll consider such a thing if you drop them a line) - the competition is essentially about finding ways to get people using the Bluetooth they already have. So if you've a good idea of how to make that happen then sign up and start coding. ®
killer app: something that works
I think the only bluetooth things I have that consistently works as they should are the PS3's gamepads. Just about everything else is prone to dropping connection, mysteriously requiring re-pairing, not finding the device it's supposed to connect to, and so on and so forth. I use my cellphone as a modem for my laptop, and half of the time when I try to use it it creates a new virtual connection, requiring new configurations.
"but not a lot of people can see the point in that"
Only because they don't work. I have a bluetooth folding keyboard which I intended to use with a Windows Mobile phone. I never got it to work properly. I have a Celluon laser keyboard which does work on Windows Mobile 6.1 with beta drivers, but since I resorted to a Windows Mobile phone twice as thick as I wanted in order to get an integrated keyboard, I don't often have to put up with the need to re-pair it repeatedly. It is, of course, not a standard BlueTooth HID device, so I couldn't pair it with a Linux device easily. I'd love to use it with an Android phone (which would stop me feeling the need for the phone to be double-thick), but of course there's no (official) support. I can quite happily surf the internet on an 800x480 or bigger screen on a mobile phone, but there's no way that I can type on one properly (however good Swype may be), and this would solve the problem nicely.
My experience of BlueTooth headsets is that when they don't cut out just because they're on the opposite side of me from my phone (yes I'm fat, but I can't be *that* radio-opaque) and actually pair properly, and the batteries don't die in two minutes, they let me hear other people, but they can't hear me. I should probably give modern technology a go and try my fifth headset type, but so far it's just felt like a BlueTooth tax.
I *am* thinking of using BlueTooth as a mechanism for timing shots in tiddlywinks (slow play is killing the game). So far, the problem is that walking around the table to hit a chess clock takes longer than actually playing a shot. The cheapest solution I can think of is to strap a WiiMote to the wrist of each player and ask them to poke a button when they've played, and have a Linux laptop running the timer, talking to the WiiMotes; I could make them vibrate (or yell) when people are taking too long. (A touch-sensitive strip and a BT transmitter on the squidgers would be even better, but a bit outside our budget - I've already *got* the WiiMotes, even though they're hopelessly overkill.) Somehow I doubt it's that universal as applications go, so I doubt the SIG would give me money.
Have the SIG considered making existing applications work?
Carkits connecting to the wrong mobile, headsets dropping their connection mid call, wireless mice and keyboards requiring a new pairing (and the use of a wired mouse and keyboard to log in) every time you use your dualboot machine to boot to another OS...
Is there any existing bluetooth technology that can be said to work reliably? Do we realy need another that doesn't?