AH, BLUETOOTH THAT ubiquitous standard that we all use, or do we? Well, either which way, Bluetooth 4.0 is on its way and should arrive just in time for that cheerful gift buying season of the year. Yup, that’s right, another year, another Bluetooth standard.
With Bluetooth 3.0 yet to appear in any useful form, one has but to wonder why yet another standard is needed. Well, to be fair to the Bluetooth SIG, 3.0 is all about performance while 4.0 is all about lowering power usage. It’s more of a complimentary standard and should end up in a new breed of devices that won’t require as large batteries as the current crop of Bluetooth enabled devices.
Think watches, pedometers, sensors of all kinds and other tiny gadgets that run on button-cell batteries. Bluetooth 4.0 is all about small bursts of data over short distances rather than large amounts of data over longer distances as per Bluetooth 3.0. However, Bluetooth 4.0 isn’t a magical solution to battery usage and if the transmission range or the data transfers are increased, the battery life of a Bluetooth 4.0 device will only be marginally better than on a Bluetooth 3.0 device.
Bluetooth 4.0 will be backwards compatible with previous standards so the transfer speed can still be boosted up to speeds of 25Mbps if need be by using the same high-speed WiFi connection as USB 3.0. However, standard data rates will be much lower when communicating with low power devices with a typical throughput of a mere 260Kbps, although this is due to a 3ms burst transmission mode which is meant to further help save power.
Bluetooth 4.0 is set to compete with Zigbee which is another standard for transmitting small amounts of data over short distances, while being powered as frugally as possible. Zibgee never really took off in the consumer electronics market, although it has had some success in home automation products and some vertical markets. Bluetooth 4.0 will likely have a lot more success due to Bluetooth being a fairly widely adopted standard.S|A
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