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WTF is... Bluetooth 4.0?

It's in the iPhone 4S, but does it matter?

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The future is Blue?

The SIG envisages Bluetooth Low Energy being used for a wide range of applications, such as remote controls for home entertainment; temperature monitoring and control; smart energy meters; proximity sensing and much more. It makes for some novel (potential) applications.

Your phone could, for instance, be set up to lock itself if it can’t ‘see’ your Bluetooth 4.0-enabled watch, which might in turn then alert you that you left your phone behind when you left the house.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Active smartphone with ANT+

Sony Ericsson implemented ANT in its Xperia Active rather than Bluetooth 4.0

Many such tasks are being defined and written up as Bluetooth Profiles that will be embedded in the standard.

But don't forget, Bluetooth 4.0 isn’t the only game in town. Some set-top boxer makers are already including both Z-Wave and Zigbee, for instance, the better to make their kit a hub for home automation and control systems. Zigbee is being used by some energy companies for smart metering, while ANT+ is already included in some mobile phones, such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active, and has a range of health and fitness sensors available right now.

So will Bluetooth 4.0 triumph over these rivals? It certainly has a good chance of doing so. If it’s fully implemented in plenty of new phones, as seems likely, that should give it the critical mass required for makers of other devices to use it in place of the other standards.

Garmin ANT-equipped FR60 sports watch

Garmin's FR60 sports watch uses the company's ANT tech to get data from heart-rate monitors and such

So far, none of these has managed to achieve such momentum and don't seem likely to. However, you will almost certainly be using a mobile phone that has Bluetooth 4.0 on board before too long.

But whether you’ll be using it to keep track of your jogging, or your blood glucose will depend on how quickly the Bluetooth SIG – and competing groups like ANT – publish profiles for device makers to use. ®

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