If there's something new, unique or worth talking about in the world of wireless and Bluetooth technology, you can usually find it here, on the official Bluetooth Blog.
Over 1.2 billion apps were downloaded for smart phones such as the iPhone and Droid last week setting a new 7 day record. This is the first time the 1 billion milestone has been broken during a 7 day period. If there was a doubt, I think this fact clearly demonstrates what the consumer expects: instant access to functionality.
The giant tech extravaganza known as the Consumer Electronics Show is almost upon us once again, and here at the Bluetooth SIG we’re getting ready by naming the finalists for our annual Best of CES awards. These 10 finalists are just a taste of what’s to come in January, when tech companies from around the world will begin announcing thousands of new products the week before the Jan. 10-13 show, including many new products featuring Bluetooth technology.
We’ve compiled this look at the 10 Bluetooth products that our judges (myself included) will consider for the three winners to be announced at CES. We divide our contest into three categories, for products that are already available (“Now”), recently released (“New”), or expected to become popular in the coming year (“Next”).
Our finalists this year are a diverse bunch, reflecting the many different types of innovative devices and applications that use Bluetooth technology. They include a mobile app for cars, a wireless speaker, a Bluetooth headset with some new capabilities, a wireless weight scale, a combination music/fitness device, new 3D TV glasses, a watch that can display messages from a smartphone, a heart-rate monitor, and an audio device for hearing aids. Even a toy helicopter you can control with a smartphone.
Some come from huge companies, others from startups you probably never heard of.
We also awarded six honorable mentions for an insulin pump, a wireless home thermostat, two devices for helping people find lost items, a tiny audio receiver, and a device to help people with sleep problems.
Several of these devices come with a matching smartphone app – a trend you’ll see a lot more of in the coming year.
There are six Bluetooth Smart devices in the list. Stay tuned for CES, where you’ll see a lot more Bluetooth Smart and Smart Ready devices introduced, adding to the fast growing list of such products already on the market .
Last Tuesday the NTSB issued a recommendation banning all use of mobile phones in the car. This goes further than legislation throughout the U.S. and the world which ban holding a mobile phone while driving, but allows calls to be taken when using a handsfree kit. When I saw the NTSB recommendation, I was surprised they advocated the complete ban as I believe such a ban is not necessary. While I completely agree that texting while driving is a bad idea, I have found that conducting a conversation while driving using a handsfree kit is akin to speaking with a passenger in the car.
At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, US swimmer Michael Phelps shattered world records, and he did it in style, wearing Speedo’s newly developed LZR Racer suit. The suit was built using NASA technology. Critics said it changed the face of the sport of swimming so much that it was banned from competition (Speedo later updated the suit and it is now worn again in swimming arenas worldwide).
This fall, when professional football once again kicked off in the US, many players donned helmets that included the same type of technology found in cars to prevent injury in the case of a crash. These new helmets are expected to reduce the number of concussions suffered while playing America’s pastime.
Technology has changed sports in the past. Bluetooth technology will do it again. But this time around, the change will not be limited to professional athletes with corporate sponsors and huge budgets to spend creating innovative products.
The typical recreational athlete, from softball player to mid-pack runner, participates in weekend tournaments (the Amateur Softball Association has over 230,000 teams with more than 3 million players) and races (just under 500,000 runners completed marathons in 2010) as a hobby, a competitive outlet and a way to stay healthy. Many buy the best equipment they can afford to help improve their performance.
Picture this: You’re training for a marathon and your trainer wants to better understand how you’re bearing your weight in order to maximize your pace. A sensor on your leg while you run tells you which leg is bearing more stress, so you can adjust your form accordingly.
Or this: The school swim meet is coming up and the coach keeps pushing you to lengthen your stroke – but you have no idea how long it is in the first place. That is, until you strap on a wireless sensor that shoots that information over to your coach’s tablet for analysis during practice.
Or perhaps this: You want to knock it out of the park, but aren’t quite sure how the ball is meeting the bat. A sensor buried deep within the softball bat gauges the look of your swing, trajectory, or the location of the ball on impact to improve hitting and batting records. And pitchers could use balls with sensors to gauge speed, release location and ball rotation.
Bluetooth sensor technology changes the training game completely. And training changes the face of sport. Making corrections like these helps athletes – both pros and weekend warriors – track their performances like never before, making them faster, stronger, and smarter competitors. This technology can also help them stay safer and injury-free, as they become aware of how their body is stressed.
Analysts predict big things for Bluetooth technology in the sports & fitness arena. IMS Research forecasts over 60 million Bluetooth enabled sports, fitness and health monitoring devices will ship between 2010 and 2015. And that’s just the devices people have already thought of, like heart rate monitors (expected to increase 60%), sports watches (expected to double), and running speed and distance monitors (another 60% increase).
The opportunity for innovation in sports & fitness using Bluetooth technology will drive market numbers to even greater heights.
Other wireless technologies have tried – are trying – to play in this space. They will not be successful.
ANT+ can’t do it, because:
Proprietary can’t do it. Sure, using proprietary technology ensures your one product can work with your one other product, but that’s not going to change the world. Consumers want affordable, usable, available options. Manufacturers want market share. Neither of these will be accomplished with proprietary technology.
And the biggest indicator to date that neither ANT+ nor other proprietary technologies will change the face of sports & fitness? Apple chose Bluetooth v4.0 for its latest iPhone evolution, the iPhone 4S. Microsoft chose Bluetooth v4.0 to support in its latest operating system, Windows 8. Those two companies can change the world. And so can Bluetooth technology.
(Note: This article is also in the November issue of Incisor magazine.)
If you’re a developer or engineer who builds applications or devices with Bluetooth technology, we have something new for you. To support Bluetooth SIG members who want to create Bluetooth Smart devices and the apps to run on them, we’ve created the Bluetooth Developer Portal.
The new portal is designed to support the new Bluetooth Smart logos we announced last week. One part of this announcement is a requirement that developers provide a way for end users to update the functionality of their Bluetooth Smart device on a Bluetooth Smart Ready device. For example, they should be able to download an app to their phone or laptop that adds functionality to their Bluetooth Smart device.
The portal contains information regarding Bluetooth specifications, white papers, training videos and links to development resources. While there is already a huge amount of information here, this is really just the start. We envision the portal providing a location where developers can come to discuss ideas, share information and tips for creating the best applications available. We welcome suggestions and content submissions from our members to help support this vision.
Check out the new site and let us know what you think! While this is a great start, it’s only the beginning. What do you like? What’s missing? We look forward to your feedback. If you’re a Bluetooth SIG member with content you think could help developers build better Bluetooth devices and applications, please send us that too.
The short-range wireless landscape is littered with organizations, standards groups and companies striving to deliver a low-power-consuming technology able to rocket sensor-type collection devices from a niche products category to the everyday norm.
It isn’t easy.
First things first, you need a ubiquitous wireless technology standard to connect sensor devices from literally thousands of different OEMs. Thousands. Sensor devices for home automation, health and fitness, non-essential automotive monitoring, the smart home market and energy management.
These OEMs aren’t just the usual suspects that have been building consumer electronics (CE) devices with wireless technology for years and years. These are newcomers to the wireless game – leaders in their respective fields that are just beginning to scrape the surface of the possibilities wireless sensor technology provides.
Second, you need two modes for the Bluetooth radio in every Bluetooth device – one mode for sensor devices (very, very bare silicon with minimal footprint, extremely low power consumption and negligible costs), and another mode for hub devices (smart silicon capable of being upgraded and working in tandem with other wireless technologies). These two radio modes must be able to communicate effectively (and seamlessly to the eyes of the consumer) and yet still meet the industry demands listed above.
Next, you need a simple and secure connection with consumer awareness and acceptance. As we have seen with mobile phones in the past five years, changing consumer behavior (“really, the iPhone has NO KEYS”) and the way they use devices takes time and an extraordinary product. While Bluetooth technology, Wi-Fi and mobile carrier providers have made wireless connectivity an expected convenience in some use cases, in many others it is still considered extremely futuristic.
Last, you need industry support. Period. If you expect to have billions of products working together, you have to have an army of OEMs, product designers and even application developers on board, working as one to bring the future to light.
So, why Bluetooth technology? The Bluetooth SIG has been working on our low power offering, officially Bluetooth v4.0, for several years. We worked closely with our member companies as they developed revolutionary new silicon to specifically address the above needs.
With this new silicon, Bluetooth wireless technology is the ONLY short-range, low-power consumption solution that also already enjoys global standardization. Bluetooth v4.0 still offers the simple and secure connection for CE devices consumers and manufacturers have come to expect. And with over 15,000 member companies working on Bluetooth connectivity, you can bet it will stay that way.
Why Bluetooth Smart Ready? Why Bluetooth Smart? Remember those two radio modes I briefly discussed? In order for our member companies to build silicon that addresses the industry demands for sensor-type devices, we had to make significant changes to the core specification. Changes that make the promise of backwards compatibility for all Bluetooth enabled devices impossible. Bluetooth v4.0 truly is a revolutionary release.
So in order to help our over 15,000 members, tens of thousands of retailers and millions of Bluetooth consumers worldwide, we have created two designations for Bluetooth v4.0 implementation to clearly define what products our massive ecosystem can expect to work together.
Bluetooth Smart Ready devices are the most effective way to connect to billions of Bluetooth devices in market today, and the over 5 million Bluetooth enabled devices commercialized every single day.
Examples include phones, tablets, PCs, TVs, even set-top boxes and game consoles that sit at the center of your connected world.
These devices can efficiently receive data from Bluetooth Smart devices and let you do something with it—record and chart the calories from your morning run on an app on your smartphone, let you manage and control the temperature of your home from your tablet, seamlessly send your insulin level reading from your glucose meter to an app on your PC that will track and even send it directly to your doctor.
Smart Ready devices can connect to the billions of Bluetooth devices already in use today and also to new Bluetooth Smart devices just starting to reach the market.
Bluetooth Smart devices are designed to gather a specific piece of information—are all the windows on my house locked, what is my insulin level, how much do I weigh today?—and send it to a Bluetooth Smart Ready device.
Examples include heart-rate monitors, blood-glucose meters, smart watches, window and door security sensors, key fobs for your car, and blood-pressure cuffs—the opportunities are endless.
If you have a Bluetooth Smart device you want to connect to a phone, tablet, PC or TV, be sure to look for one with the Bluetooth Smart Ready logo.
We did not make this decision lightly, nor did we create these designations on a whim. We have worked extensively with our members – including board members like Apple and Microsoft, focus groups of consumers and the SIG internal team to make sure Bluetooth v4.0, and the Smart Ready and Smart marks address compatibility issues while delivering a revolutionary technology standard to change the way we live.
More information on how a device qualifies to bear the new Bluetooth Smart designation, as well as detailed compatibility explanations and a general FAQ can be found at bluetooth.com/pages/smart-logos.aspx.
We’re expanding Bluetooth.com to better serve an important audience we want to pay more attention to—people who make Bluetooth devices or are considering whether to add Bluetooth technology to their products.
We’ve long had our Bluetooth.org site for Bluetooth SIG members. Now we have a new Markets section for product planners and business decision makers who want to learn about market opportunities for Bluetooth products.
Here you’ll find information about the seven key markets where we see the greatest potential for Bluetooth technology. Some of these markets—like mobile phones and autos—are familiar to anyone who uses Bluetooth devices. Others—like the smart home market or health and wellness—may not be so obvious.
We hope many of you become future SIG members after you learn about these opportunities. Maybe your company already belongs to the SIG but is used mostly by engineers at your company.
As you look at these seven markets, you may be surprised to see how many different types of products are benefitting from Bluetooth technology. Healthcare devices such as wireless stethoscopes and blood glucose monitors, and fitness devices such as cadence sensors and cycling computers. Even smart energy meters and appliances in the home that you can control with a smartphone. Together these billions of current and future Bluetooth devices create what we call the Bluetooth Network Effect.
We're also using Bluetooth.com to highlight our brand promise—that Bluetooth technology is simple, secure, everywhere. This may seem obvious to people who have used Bluetooth devices for years, but it's not something we've advertised until now.
If you're a member of the press or analyst community, we want you to be able to quickly find the information you need to cover Bluetooth products and technology. So we’ve added a Media Resources section with everything most members of the press need, conveniently in one place. We also think analysts will find this information useful, along with the new Markets section.
Feel free to let us know how you feel about these changes, or if there’s anything you think we’re missing. We’re all ears. Add your comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apple’s hotly anticipated new iPhone 4S is significant for many reasons, but one reason in particular stands out for me—it’s the first phone to include Bluetooth v4.0 technology. Apple is a technology leader, and they’re certainly leading with this announcement of the newest iPhone.
A year from now, I expect it will be hard to find a new smartphone that doesn’t include Bluetooth v4.0. We’ll look back and remember Apple as one of the pioneers that led the charge to this new technology.
By including Bluetooth v4.0, Apple is ensuring that the iPhone 4S will be able to connect to a wave of other Bluetooth v4.0 devices coming later this year, from health and fitness sensors (heart rate straps, blood glucose monitors, etc.) to new laptops, tablets, and consumer electronics devices (remote controls, 3D glasses, etc.)
Apple added Bluetooth v4.0 to the new MacBook Air and Mac Mini in June. Now Apple has a trio of devices ready for the wireless future. Stay tuned for more phone and computer makers to follow Apple’s lead.
It is solutions like the one shown in this video (Amazing: 29-Year-Old Deaf Girl Hearing Herself For The First Time!) which makes me proud to work in the technology industry. While I had nothing to do with the solution shown, I like to believe that the work I’ve done in technology has had a positive impact on people’s lives.
An article on cnet this week got me thinking about how fast the market for Bluetooth enabled speakers is taking off. The article, titled “Why iPhone speakers are ditching AirPlay for Bluetooth,” lists six reasons why Bluetooth technology is better suited than Apple’s Airplay feature for streaming music from smartphones, laptops, and other Bluetooth enabled devices. The article doesn’t really criticize Airplay (except for cost); it focuses on why Bluetooth technology is even better for streaming music.
Some of the advantages listed by cnet are that Bluetooth technology works nearly identical to AirPlay on Apple’s own iOS devices, that AirPlay devices tend to be expensive, and that Bluetooth devices don’t require a Wi-Fi network like AirPlay devices.
Finally, perhaps the biggest reason of all why Bluetooth speakers make sense – they can connect to any Bluetooth phone, tablet or laptops, not just Apple devices.
Bluetooth portable speakers aren’t new, but recently a slew of new models have been released by top speaker manufacturers, including:
There are also new devices like Logitech’s Wireless Speaker Adapter for Bluetooth audio devices, which lets you connect any Bluetooth enabled phone, tablet or computer to a conventional speaker, effectively making it wireless.
There are getting to be so many Bluetooth speakers that last spring cnet created a roundup of top portable Bluetooth speakers to help its readers keep track of them. It’s already getting out of date.
The only thing I don’t agree with is in the cnet article is the claim that Bluetooth devices don’t provide the best sound for home entertainment because Bluetooth audio is compressed.
I’ve listened to Bluetooth audio on equipment that probably cost over $100,000 in a sound-proof room at a Bluetooth SIG member company and couldn’t tell the difference between Bluetooth audio and uncompressed audio.
My ears aren’t what they once were, but the younger folks who put these tests together and worked to optimize their product’s audio implementation couldn’t tell a difference either. Perhaps a golden ear can hear a difference between Bluetooth audio and uncompressed audio, but 99 percent of the population won’t notice.