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.
Two weeks ago in another blog post, I told you about the 10 Best of CES finalists we chose just before the start of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Now I‘m pleased to announce the winners, which we named at the It Won’t Stay in Vegas Tweet House event last weekend.
Vizio is the overall winner for its Class Theater 3D™ Edge Lit Razor LED LCD HDTV. This Vizio HDTV exemplifies all the characteristics that consumers have come to expect from Bluetooth technology – functionality, innovative design and the easiest user experience imaginable. It’s a deserving winner of our 6th annual CES awards program.
The integrated Bluetooth technology in the Class Theater 3D TV lets you pair Bluetooth enabled headphones with the TV. You can also pair Vizio’s stellar Bluetooth remote, with its handy slide out QWERTY keyboard. I tested this remote last May and posted this video showing how easy it is to pair the remote with the TV.
We divided our Bluetooth SIG Best of CES awards into three categories: Now, New, and Next. They focus on Bluetooth products available now, such as mobile phones; products new to the Bluetooth family, like televisions; and the next wave of products expected in the coming year, such as proximity and healthcare monitoring devices.
Congratulations to the category winners for our Best of CES awards:
A few days ago I kicked off the new year by writing about how the Bluetooth SIG plans to focus on several key markets in 2011 where we see great potential for new uses of Bluetooth technology. In addition to the health and fitness market, which I wrote about last time, we plan to make a renewed push into the mobile phone market.
The phone market is almost the opposite of health and fitness, since Bluetooth technology is already in virtually every mobile phone made today. By contrast, we’ve only just scratched the surface of what sorts of medical and fitness devices will use Bluetooth technology, especially with advent of tiny, low-cost wireless sensors you’ll be able to wear on your body to monitor your health and workouts.
So why focus on a market where Bluetooth technology already is the dominant short-range wireless technology? Because the growth in smartphones continues to explode, giving phones the computing power to run applications never before possible, while collecting and analyzing information from wireless sensors in new and innovative ways.
New phones will soon start to include dual-mode chips that support both classic Bluetooth technology (like today’s phones) and new Bluetooth low energy technology. These next-generation phones will be able to communicate with a plethora of sensors made possible by Bluetooth low energy technology. They’ll function as “gateway” devices to collect vital medical information about people and send it to their doctor or other healthcare provider via the Internet.
PCs already have this information-gathering capability, but most people don’t keep their PC turned on all the time and carry it with them everywhere they go, while many do exactly that with their phone.
The information-gathering role of mobile phones won’t be limited to medical devices. They’ll also be able to harvest wireless information from sensors in your phone, your car, and many other places.
One of the best parts about all this is that dual-mode wireless chips are expected to actually cost less than today’s single-mode chips. Like the familiar story in technology, it will soon cost less to get more when it comes to the Bluetooth technology in your phone.
We’ll also continue to improve what mobile phones can do with the classic Bluetooth technology found in virtually all mobile phones today. This includes:
The Bluetooth SIG has its sights in 2011 on key markets where we see great potential for Bluetooth technology. One of the most important is health and fitness, where we plan to expand the use of Bluetooth technology into many types of wireless devices, including:
We’ve talked a lot in the past year about why there’s so much potential for Bluetooth technology in health and fitness devices. One of the biggest reasons is the emergence of Bluetooth low energy technology, which will allow companies to design wireless devices that are smaller than ever and yet last longer, by shrinking battery size and requiring less power.
We’re already seeing innovative new wireless medical devices with Bluetooth technology, such as this proposed Smart Watch that promises to help people with epilepsy, by detecting abnormal movements in people prone to seizures.
The watch is still undergoing clinical trials. It can send alerts to a mobile phone and from there to your medical professional. The watch looks a bit bulky now, but Bluetooth low energy technology will be able to help slim down devices like this in the future.
Another driving force for Bluetooth technology in medical devices is the exploding popularity of smartphones. Millions of people now carry a Bluetooth enabled smartphone with them almost everywhere they go. Soon you’ll be able to pair their phone with new types of wireless sensors that monitor everything from glucose and oxygen levels to your heart rate and electrocardiogram (ECG).
The sensors will be able to send this wealth of medical information to your phone, where it can be analyzed and viewed by you or sent to your health care provider (or in the case of devices like the Smart Watch for people with a serious condition, to emergency workers.)
In the fitness market, we also see great potential for wireless, low-power sensors you’ll wear on your body. These sensors can be built into devices that help you track your workouts and goals for getting in shape. Small sensors on your shoe, wrist or strapped to your chest will help you monitor everything from your pace and pulse to cadence and distance, and send it all to your watch for instant feedback while you’re working out, or to your phone or computer for later analysis. Who knows, all this amazing technology might even help motivate gadget fans like me to work out more.
If you’ve never been to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) - the largest consumer electronics show in the world - you’re missing out on a lot of innovation, new products and devices beyond belief, more technology journalists and bloggers than you can count, and a ridiculous amount of walking. This year, we're bringing all the excess of CES together, tracking it, and sharing all that fascinating data with you.
The SIG is inciting, what we are calling, a little friendly competition at CES in January. We will be outfitting 10 bloggers with the recently released BodyMedia Armband BW, the first body monitoring armband that can communicate with a smartphone using Bluetooth wireless technology. The armband will tell them in near real-time their caloric burn data, physical activity levels and number of steps taken. We'll be wearing the armbands as well.
We'll see which of the 10 bloggers takes the most steps, burns the most calories, and comes out ahead. After the show wraps up, we’ll analyze the results and determine which of us is the most active technology enthusiast at the show.
I’d like to introduce you to our participants:
Michael Reyes, Hardware Geeks
Radiris Diaz, Cute Geeks
Dave Zatz, Zatz Not Funny
John Biggs, Crunchgear
Eric Zeman, Phone Scoop
Lucy Hedges, Stuff.tv
Ross Rubin, NPD Group and Engadget
Matt Hamblen, Computerworld
Lance Ulanoff, PC Magazine
Brian Westbrook, tech.brianwestbrook.com
Peter Suciu, KinecticShift.com
Bluetooth v4.0 is going to enable an entire world full of sensors. We doubt we'll be able to take a step at CES 2012 (ha – you see what I did there?) without running into Bluetooth enabled health, fitness and personal monitoring devices.
Bluetooth technology already makes it easy to track your fitness levels anytime and anywhere today. It allows you to instantly transfer data and monitor your progress while you're moving. We hope these tech bloggers will put this to the test as they lace up in Las Vegas next week, and step it up at CES 2011.
Just in time for all the procrastinating shoppers out there, the Bluetooth SIG has developed the ultimate holiday gift list – the finalists for our Bluetooth SIG Best of CES Awards.
From the coolest tablets to the most amazing TVs, Bluetooth technology is the common theme that ties all of these incredible products together. More and more, as consumers, we expect all of our gadgets and gizmos to communicate, and as our finalists show, Bluetooth is the technology of choice to make that communication happen.
Here are the finalists in the Bluetooth SIG's 6th Annual Best of CES Awards.
I personally have my fingers crossed for the Vizio HDTV and the BodyMedia FIT Armband to be waiting in my stocking. I'm pretty sure the TV will fit.
As we head into the holidays and think about the fast-approaching new year, I’m reminded of how much happened in the Bluetooth marketplace in 2010 and how much opportunity there is ahead of us in 2011.
The biggest event of the past year for the Bluetooth SIG was, without a doubt, the approval of Bluetooth v4.0 Core Specification in June. That kick-started the development of the first products with Bluetooth low energy technology, which I expect to see start appearing in 2011.
Why is Bluetooth low energy technology such a big deal? Because we expect it to usher in a host of new wireless products that were never before possible, in markets without a lot of Bluetooth enabled devices today. For example, Bluetooth low energy technology will allow engineers to create sensors that can run for months off a tiny coin-cell battery. This could have many uses in new medical devices that monitor your health or fitness products that track your workouts.
Imagine sensors so small you barely notice them stuck or strapped onto your body. They’ll be able to wirelessly transmit medical information about how you’re doing to your mobile phone or computer and from there over the Internet to your medical professional, who will be able to check how you’re doing and get alerts if you need medical assistance.
In addition to targeting the health and fitness market in 2011, we also plan to promote new uses of Bluetooth technology in automobiles, mobile phones, consumer electronics and personal computers, and the emerging smart energy market.
Bluetooth technology is already well established in mobile phones and cars, but because these markets are still growing so fast and seeing so much innovation, we see a lot more potential there.
The first big preview of next-generation Bluetooth enabled devices will come in a few weeks at the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (Jan. 6-9), where there’s always a flood of interesting tech news.
Visit Bluetooth.com during CES for our take on the latest CES product announcements, or come see us in person in Booth 3219 in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. I wish all of you best for the New Year, and I hope to see you at CES!
There is an unnerving trend in America these days to rush to extremes. On the political front, we are seeing this play out with the Tea Party movement. And just this past week we have seen perfectly reasonable air travelers turn against the TSA – the very people who are trying to protect us. While being searched and having my image copied every time I fly isn’t my favorite idea, I do understand that it is an imperfect system and there are bound to be some mistakes made along the way.
We see extreme swings in the consumer electronics industry, too. One week, Apple is an infallible company with fanboys as far as the eye can see. The next, "Antennagate" hits and all of a sudden Steve Jobs is being second guessed like an inexperienced newbie.
In October, the debate over distracted driving and hands-free legislation reached a crescendo when U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood changed his previous stance, from supporting legislation that required a hands-free device to be used when calling, to an all-out ban on cell phone use in the car. An extreme switch, to be sure.
I personally don’t need a law to tell me that I'm better able to pay attention to the task of driving by using the Bluetooth calling system in my car. I understand that keeping my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road is important to keep myself, my passengers and others I share the road with safe. I also recognize that I should never text while I am driving. I can, as everyone should, assess my own personal driving situation and make calling decisions accordingly.
Research out yesterday from Strategy Analytics forecasts that by 2016, 90 percent of cars will have Bluetooth hands-free calling systems. The same research also points to Bluetooth enabled devices as a smarter way to drive.
With Bluetooth devices available at every price point, and more and more car manufacturers implementing Bluetooth technology as a standard every day (even in affordable cars like this new Kia), it just makes sense to utilize the technology to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
Don’t rush to an extreme. Drive smart, drive safe
Electronica was conducted last week in Munich, Germany. This every other year show is one of, if not the, largest electronics trade shows in the world. This year served as a coming out party for Bluetooth low energy. There were chips, modules and demos from prominent silicon manufacturers such as Nordic Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, CSR, Panasonic and EM Microelectronics, to name just a few.
I thought the EM Microelectronics demo was particularly interesting. Their EM9301 transceiver chip operates at a voltage as low as 0.8 volts and has a sub uAmp (1 uAmp = 0.000001 Amp) off-mode current drain and barely more than that in sleep mode.
While these numbers are unbelievably low and thought to be impossible just a few short years ago, what is really impressive is what this enables. Using this solution, EM Microelectronics demonstrated a remote control for a light switch powered solely via energy harvesting, i.e. the remote didn’t require a battery to operate. In-and-of-itself a battery-less remote for a light switch may not be that exciting. However, when you start to think of applications that could use this technology, it does get exciting.
Think of set-and-forget sensors on doors and windows for home security systems. Think of health devices for collecting vital signs that never need to be replaced. Think of engine and tire sensors in your car. The list goes on and on. When looked at from this perspective, the demo was very exciting indeed.
The Bluetooth SIG recently became aware of mobile phones that continue to use AT commands as their primary method to access phone book information. This was a reasonable approach prior to the adoption of the Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP), but should only be used as a fallback method when PBAP is not supported by the other device.
The use of adopted Bluetooth profiles eliminates interoperability issues and simplifies testing. We strongly encourage all manufacturers to implement adopted profiles to provide the best experience for the consumer.
Manufacturers utilizing the AT command over Serial Port Profile (SPP) approach should be aware of the fact that this functionality is outside of the scope of the Bluetooth SIG License.
Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog entry titled Wi Wi-Fi Direct? With the announcement on Monday from the Wi-Fi Alliance stating they are now certifying Wi-Fi Direct products, this question needs to be asked again. The points from my first post are still valid – that Wi-Fi Direct:
Now with the release of the specification and certification program, these concerns are confirmed and even more are introduced. Basically, Wi-Fi Direct allows for a Wi-Fi product to simulate an access point tricking a legacy Wi-Fi product into setting up a network between the products. If the new Wi-Fi Direct product is a dongle added to a laptop and one drives the experience from the laptop, scenarios such as printing could be workable. (Assuming of course the laptop already has the print driver loaded.) But it breaks down quickly when attempting to connect that laptop with a mobile phone or other device.
Today, when in the office my Android phone connects to the network via Wi-Fi access points. However, I’m not able to transfer music from my desktop PC to the phone. Having my desktop PC simulate an access point wouldn’t change this situation. However, I can easily right click on a file and select “Send to->Bluetooth device” to send the file from my PC to my phone. This is because Bluetooth technology is designed from the radio to the application as a peer-to-peer experience for the user.
Trying to shoehorn a network solution like Wi-Fi Direct into personal area networks is fraught with issues like this because the two network scenarios are different. Forcing a wireless LAN to enable personal area networks is like trying to moor your boat with 100 extra feet of line – inevitably the line gets tangled, knotted and in your way, making your task far more difficult than it should be.
The Bluetooth SIG has already navigated the tricky waters of interoperability and qualification testing on a wealth of profile layers. This ensures that Bluetooth wireless technology is the most reliable and usable choice for personal area networks. Personal being key.
Bluetooth technology can connect all your wireless devices in the vicinity of each other – there's no need to open a large network to do this. As I asked before, and I ask again – Wi Wi-Fi Direct?