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Bluetooth Gets a Speed Boost 90

Tom Keating writes to tell us that the Bluetooth SIG has announced the adoption of WiMedia's version of ultra-wideband technology for integration into current Bluetooth technology. This move hopes to push the popularity of Bluetooth by providing a new high speed option that can transmit high quality sound and video. WiMedia also has a copy of the announcement [PDF] on their site with a few additional details.
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Bluetooth Gets a Speed Boost

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  • by electronerdz ( 838825 ) <> on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @07:47AM (#15016874) Homepage
    Now we can all throw out our old Bluetooth devices, so we can upgrade. I can't wait to take a video of my friend on my phone, then show it to him on my phone, then send it to his phone, then watch it on his phone too! I hope they come out with a newer, faster one right after I get this one.
    • Also, I hope they make it more of a challenge to use. It's just too easy only reinstalling the software 4 times, making sure you have both the widcomm AND MS stacks. And installing the software before you attach the device for the first time AND then again once you plug it into your USB port? Too easy! Who wants to just be able to plug it in like a flash memory dongle and use it straight away on whatever device claims to be bluetooth compatible? Where's the fun in that?
      • I didn't know anyone used Bluetooth who wasn't also a Mac user. Frankly, I'm not sure why you'd want to subject yourself to the misery of trying to get it to work on anything else.

        Personally? I'm looking forward to syncing my address book and calendar faster--maybe continual, incremental updates, though I'm not sure why that can't already be done?--uploading snapshots, audio recordings, and videos faster, and maybe some more useful remote control features. And, of course, Internet access at something above
        • not to seem like an informative troll or anything, but what does your internet access speed have to do with Bluetooth? WiFi is a separate thing from Bluetooth, and also standard WiFi access speeds are well in excess of most internet connections, so this wont speed anything up.

          Bluetooth right now is only used for rather short range communication between things like microphone/phone, phone/PC, not really for general purpose communications
          • Bluetooth can be used as a link in internet access using a mobile phone, e.g. laptop -> bt -> cell phone -> (GPRS, EDGE, or EVDO) -> Internet

            Bluetooth slows down net access for users of ev-do for example, so verizon only "supports" access this way using a usb cable. Pulling out a usb cable to connect between laptop and cell phone is, well, so 20th Century.

        • I didn't know anyone used Bluetooth who wasn't also a Mac user.

          It's not all that bad under Linux, either. My notebook uses it to communicate with my phone (a Treo 650), a printer (a DeskJet 450wbt), and a mouse. The phone was the trickiest to get set up, mainly because you need to set up PPP, but the mouse and printer were simple enough.

          Bluetooth on Windows is a bit of a mess. The aforementioned printer was more of a bother to get running on Windows than on Linux, and even now the Windows driver ju

      • I reckon the USB over WiMedia has a better chance of winning. []

        Mostly because USB stacks are pretty rock solid on most devices, whereas Bluetooth stacks are awful on everything.

        If you had a W-USB keyboard and system, even the Bios would have a driver for it, and it would work the way USB HID devices now, which is always flawless.
      • I use BlueTooth for quite a few things. I started with simply keeping my phone's addressbook with my computers, then moved to the keyboard and mouse combo. I also use it to stream MP3s on my computer to my earphones.

        Yes, I use a Mac. I'd like to do the same with my Windows PC, but Microsoft implementation is pretty bad. It doesn't have to be, but MS so far hasn't designated it as a built in Windows service. If they did, all PCs would have Bluetooth capability and the connections would be seemless.

        Why not si
      • All computers are not Windows computers. Just because you have a problem on YOUR computer, does not mean there's anything wrong with the technology. I have a bluetooth dongle that I just plugged into my mini and it Just Works. I have bluetooth built into my iBook. In fact, I even have a "Send file to Treo" automator workflow.
      • Hmmmm,
        I plug in the dongle, turn blue-tooth on in the phone, select the computer name in the phone menu, click OK on the computer.
        Blue tooth has been built into the kernel and Desktop environment for a while now.

        Wait...... that sounds like the time I tried to get Blue-tooth to work in Microsoft Windows xp....... ah, now I get it.
      • I've only used mine (Trendnet) with a Palm Tungsten E2, but in Windows XP SP2 I just plugged the dongle in and everything worked fine.

        True, the manual that came with it had a pretty complex procedure, but I just ignored it - one of the sites I checked it out in before buying mentioned that it worked fine after just plugging it in.
    • No kidding, what the hell is the use of this? If you're looking for speed, use WiFi. Bluetooth is for wireless keyboards and shit.
      • by planetmn ( 724378 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:47AM (#15017045)
        UWB: 480mbps WiFi: 54mbps (well, I guess you can get the hybrid 108mbps) UWB: Short range WiFi: Medium range Totally different uses. Think of it this way. All of those cables connecting your TV and other video/audio components together, can go away with UWB. HD quality connections, wirelessly. Can't do that with WiFi. -dave
      • No kidding, what the hell is the use of this? If you're looking for speed, use WiFi. Bluetooth is for wireless keyboards and shit.

        Mobile phones. I use BT on a regular basis to transfer files to and from my mobile. My mobile plays unprotected AAC files from my iTunes Music Library, so it's not uncommon for me to upload a few mega file to my phone - and backwards goes a few mega video file shot by the built in camera. And yes, I would appreciate if the progress bar could move slightly faster.
    • really use bluetooth?
      • In short, yes. I use it to allow my Palm Tungsten to dial up using O2's GPRS service without the line-of-site hassle of IrDA. It also allows me to send and receive SMS and dial numbers directly from my Palm address book. By simply buying a Palm with bluetooth to replace my aging M500 (sans bluetooth) it's opened up a whole world of useful functionality.
      • I use it. The new H700 headset I have works great with my Cingular Motorola RAZR. And, it's the easiest way for me to get contacts from my Axim XV50 to my RAZR. I didn't have any trouble setting it up. The thing I don't like is the OBEX (object exchange) interface that only lets me send one contact at a time (as far as I can tell). I also use it to offload pictures I take with the phone to the AXIM.

        (I specifically dropped verizon and got cingular because of the way verizon cripples the data functions o
      • I use bluetooth to connect my pda to the internet both via my laptop when it's nearbye and online as well as to my cell phone nearly everywhere. I use bluetooth headsets to connect to my laptop for Skype and Googletalk when I'm not using it for my cell phone.

        If I connected my pda to the internet using 802.11b it would drain a full battery in 20 minutes. Using bluetooth I can go for an hour and a half.

        It's like one of the posters above said, 802.11 and Bluetooth are for different uses. If I'm connecting t
      • I do. Only for three things, though:

        Transfering files between my fiance's and my phone, and the computer as well. This makes the phone cheaper in the long run (not having to purchase ringtones of songs we already own, not paying the provider to transfer OUR pictures)

        Bluetooth headset. It makes me look like a crazy person, but the convenience is worth a few stares.

        Using it as the remote control for my media center pc. SonyEricsson made a little utility to make an HID profile for your phone that allo
      • If the asshats at Verizon Wireless hadn't crippled the Bluetooth abilities of my Motorola e815, then yes, I would be using it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @07:56AM (#15016901)
    With its current market penetration this will make Bluetooth the ideal choice for a Linux HTPC remote control with VOIP capability.

    But will it be good enough for instant roaming networks? I would love alert fellow road users that my bike is coming out of the ally and know that someone want in at almost the same time so that we can slow down or speed up without having to brake hard when we meet face to face at the corner.

    Not realy a big aftersales market like car navigation so Linux using a mass sold protocol would be ideal. Will blutooth become good enough for such applications?
    • New Bluetooth
      + GPS
      + Dad's hunting Rifle
      = Playing the "Real" Counter-Strike in your own neighborhood!
    • there could be p2p apps that worked over bluetooth? yay! we could actually have "piracy at sea"... yeah i know that was a horrible joke
    • If that's what you'll do with it, I hope not. There's too many other things that you could hit as you roar out of that corner: older cars without bluetooth2, cyclists, pedestrians, animals, children. While a crash with someone in a flashy car that has bt2 on would probably have been the most spectacular, it doesn't mean the others become insignificant.

      I'm probably only replying to this post because I'm a committed cyclist and get cars bumping me to the side of the road simply because they don't really notic
    • Err.. I wouldnt rely on a technology like this for telling you where other road users are:

      1) most people would not have such a device unless it was made compulsory to have one on your car

      2) it could break, and then you'd be screwed

      3) if you're in a city, you should pretty much always slow down at blind corners.. even if it's at night and you can see other vehicle's headlights, what about pedestrians? And besides that, would you want someone being able to track your bike going around town, making i
    • But will it be good enough for instant roaming networks? I would love alert fellow road users that my bike is coming out of the ally and know that someone want in at almost the same time so that we can slow down or speed up without having to brake hard when we meet face to face at the corner.

      That's not for Bluetooth. The range and complexity of any bluetooth network is limited by design. Basically, it's all about up to eight devices connected in one room or building. Also, Bluetooth is not designed with
    • What you want is a crystal ball, not a "let me think I can speed safely because others may have a device that alerts me to their presence". What about all those without these? Are you gonna run 'em down?
  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:06AM (#15016932) Homepage Journal
    the point of bluetooth is to be LOW POWER so it can be REALLY SMALL and you can't have video capable bandwidth in a micropowered device.
    • the point of bluetooth is to be LOW POWER so it can be REALLY SMALL and you can't have video capable bandwidth in a micropowered device.

      If you RTFA, you'd have noticed that they are trying to keep the same power requirements by making efficiencies in the design. But you do make a valid point - how much power could they save without this high bandwidth?

      • I did read it, I also know that the amount of processing power required to juggle a little itty bitty mono audio stream in two directions from my earpiece to my cellphone, vs the amount of processing power required to process and transmit video (presumably one way) is much more electrically intensive.. it's going to use more electricity, the power requirements will have to go up.

        • That's just being ignorant.

          In 1951 Remington Rand was selling UNIVAC1 computers to the government. The thing could do about 1,900 operations per second and had I think about 72kilobits of ram.
          It drew 125 Kwatts of electricity.

          The laptop sitting in front of me now is about 300,000 times faster and draws 25 watts during peak usage.

          What on earth makes you think that just becuase something is faster/better, it therefore must (by some magical law of physics I'm sure) draw more power?

          With advanc
          • see your neighbors response in part.
            short form.

            I'm not talking about the consumption of electricity for the radio transmission
            I'm talking about the consumption of electricity for the video manipulation

            consider a fm only walkman vs a personal video player.. to display video in a human consumable format, requires more electricity
            larger devices, larger batteries..
            I have a bluetooth headset whose weight is given in grams... how will you do that with devices for video?
            • But your're still missing the point here,

              consider a fm only walkman vs a personal video player.. to display video in a human consumable format, requires more electricity larger devices, larger batteries..

              I have a Zen Micro and a Zen Vision, the battery life is about the same, even though my micro is mono color and my vision is full color, (aside from diffrent codecs) now, I'm not talking video vs audio, just playing audio. you're assuming that they WILL use the bluetooth for playing video and such, whe

              • I want to compare a fm radio (or it should be walkie-talkie, as it's two way)
                  to a color tv, for the purposes of power consumption

                you are comparing the equivelent of a black and white tv to a color tv

        • by Anonymous Coward

          it's going to use more electricity, the power requirements will have to go up.

          Wrong. Thanks to Shannon's Law, UWB can drastically cut its power output in exchange for using a huge slice of spectrum, and still be much faster than Bluetooth. Since UWB goes under the FCC limit of -41 dBm/MHz, even if Bluetooth uses Wi-Media's entire 7 GHz spectrum, you're only looking at about 0.5 mW to transmit. In comparison, Bluetooth ranges from 1 mW to 100 mW, depending on the power class. And that's even before y

          • I'm not talking about the radio part.
            I'm talking about the handling of video part.

            What will the video be used for- presumably for a human to watch.

            a reciving/displaying device powerful enough to display video for a human eye will require more electricity than a simple speaker and microphone.

            a transmitting/sourcing device will require more electrical consumption to suppy the video to the wireless.. e.g. if it's a camera, then the cmos will consume more than a condensing microphone
      • My guess is that there is going to be a performance slider in the options. Let you scale up the range at the cost of power, much the same way that you can scale the brighness of the screen. That way, if you are using yout Laptop or PPC or whatever plugged in, take full advantage of it. On the road and trying to connect to things like keyboards and mice and such within a meter or two, you have no need for the massive range.
        • My guess is that there is going to be a performance slider in the options. Let you scale up the range at the cost of power, much the same way that you can scale the brighness of the screen.

          But that would present an incompatibility between communicating devices. It's much simpler in terms of design to keep the speed the same. Also, even if you could change the power levels, it wouldn't be part of the standard, just some optional extra.

          The biggest cost, as the parent poster has pointed out is the real worl

    • Another thing to keep in mind is that higher speed doesn't always mean more battery consumption. Compared to Bluetooth 1.2, Bluetooth 2.0's higher data rate means a shorter time where you have to have the transmitter powered on and therefore an overall power savings.
    • It's that lower power, limited connection was a target environment. The goal of the protocol was to support power switching between idle and active states, not a protocol for low powered devices (i.e. think laptops). Not many other protocols were designed for that use case and are hacked solutions (i.e. WiFi).

      What's nice is the protocol is already geared for throttling up or down on power, hence bandwidth. That is ideal for a mobile environment/devices.

  • This makes me really glad. Now that I am out of the project and focusing more on open source projects, I don't get to read about Bluetooth much. This just made my day.
  • Oh yeah, great... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grahamlee ( 522375 ) <{iamleeg} {at} {}> on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:24AM (#15016982) Homepage Journal now we've got ultra-wide bandwidth combined with rapid frequency shifts. That's going to suck up big chunks of the unlicensed broadcast band at a time - I hope no-one's using a microwave (or a wireless router, especially a pre-N one) when I'm transferring my pr0n from my phone to my portable video player...
    • so now we've got ultra-wide bandwidth combined with rapid frequency shifts

      That's the idea behind frequency-hopping spread spectrum. By rapidly shifting bewteen frequencies used, you appear to raise the noise floor rather than injecting a spike at a particular frequency.

    • The UWB frequencies aren't in the 2.4 GHz area. The SIG plans on using 6 GHz and up. Your giraffe pictures [] won't interfere with teh Intarweb.
  • Speed isn't an issue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @09:12AM (#15017122)
    The licensing costs of Bluetooth are the reason for its slow adoption.

    There is no reason for a Bluetooth wireless headphones to cost $200 or more, other good quality wireless headphones with proprietary wireless technology could be purchased for $80.

    Bluetooth mice and keyboards are like 50% - 100% more expensive then those wireless mice and keyboards with proprietary wireless technology. In fact, I heard it was cheaper for a company to developer their own wireless technology rather then licence Bluetooth for their products.

    With wireless USB entering the market this year, I would be reluctant to buy anything Bluetooth until we see how Wireless USB will handle and how inexpensive it will be to license and use the product. My guess is that most companies using a proprietary wireless connection will adopt Wireless USB quickly.

    For now, the only niche market that Bluetooth is succeeding in is in cell phone headsets. When it comes to general computing, Bluetooth's days are numbered.
    • What are you talking about? My Cardo Scala500 wireless bluetooth earpiece cost me $48 a year and a half ago. Now I don't know what the licensing costs are, but they sure as heck aren't $120 for a wireless headset.

      I think the reason for it's slow adoption is that too many popular devices only use v1.1, namely the treo 650. The quality is simply terrible on a bluetooth 1.1 device.
    • You can get bluetooth headsets for about £20 ($30?) a piece, so licencing costs don't appear to be a major issue.

      As for sound quality limiting take up, my Moto HS810 is BT1.1, and the sound quality on calls is fantastic, either via my Moto V525 or Siemens SX1 (both BT 1.1), or my newer SE W550 (BT 2.0).
      • I got my Logitech Headset about a year ago, paid $50 for it when all the motorola sets I was were $100+ My only beef with Bluetooth is it has a hard time with my leather jacket (phone sitting in my left pocket, earpiece on my right ear, very crackly unless i tilt my head) Mabe Spread Sectrum will help? hope so.. I guess it'll also mean i'm gonna wait before getting a Bluetooth Phone. (right now using a BT adapter on my phone now, very clunky)
    • by 241comp ( 535228 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @10:21AM (#15017420) Homepage
      Actually, there is a good discussion about Bluetooth available here [] and basically what it has to say about licensing costs is that there are reasonable licensing plans for virtually any size production (from just a few to millions of products).
  • Bluetooth (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DarthChris ( 960471 )
    As I understand it, bluetooth (like most wireless) isn't very secure. If that's the case, wouldn't it be prudent to fix this before giving it a speed boost?
    • You assume general joe average gives a danm about security when he transmits pictures from mobile to mobile, or presses the buttons on his BT remote control.
    • I once had the opportunity to meet with and talk to one of the men who was involved in breaking the Enigma cipher during World War II. "If you have anything important to say," he said, "don't transmit it over the air. You can be sure someone will be listening, if they want to. And if you've encoded it, it's a matter of time before they decode it. If the Germans hadn't been so dependent on radiotelegraphs and had bothered to use cables, we wouldn't know half as much as what we finally found out."

    • while (typeid(this) == single) { printf("Still single :("); } Well crap, dude -- no wonder! Try it this way: while (interact() != success) { printf("Still single :("); }
    • As I understand it, bluetooth (like most wireless) isn't very secure. If that's the case, wouldn't it be prudent to fix this before giving it a speed boost?

      For many applications, security just isn't very important but data rate is. E.g., connections bewteen home stereo components -- you wouldn't be too worried about someone evesdropping on your Bluetooth audio or video. After all, if they are in Bluetooth range, they can probably hear your stereo or see your TV.

    • Bluetooth should be able to use AES encryption. The algorithm has never been cracked. In fact the only way AES has ever been beaten is through a side channel attack which requires crazy skills plus hands on access to the internals of both radios. Until someone beats AES, wireless is secure.

      Unreferenced Fact: to beat AES through brute force it would take a machine attempting 255 keys a second 149 trillion years to crack the code.
  • by dbucowboy ( 891058 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @10:08AM (#15017347) Homepage
    I prefer using wired connections... it gives me the security of knowing that if I fall off a cliff while talking on the phone I will at least have a tether.
  • by Jtheletter ( 686279 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @11:38AM (#15017898)
    Does anyone seriously think that this would even be put into cellphones and not horribly crippled by the major providers? Time and again we've seen artifical restrictions put on cellphones in an attempt to charge exorbitant fees for things as simple as moving cameraphone pictures to your computer. We're no longer being nickle-and-dimed to death, now it's a dollar or five at a time. Want to transfer video to your phone for viewing on the train using this new bluetooth high speed feature? No problem, you just need to sign up for our BlueVideo plan at a scant $9.99 per month, and expect download speeds to be about the same as regular bluetooth since we've totally crippled the standard to prevent all you hax0rs from trying to put data you own on the phone you own in the manner of your choosing. And don't forget our soul-sucking DRM for that video format! Why have 15fps when you can get 6fps in twice the memory space?
  • So, Wireless USB is also using WiMedia's UWB technology []. Does this bring them any closer to convergence, or just mean that they're two different protocols using the same bandwidth and the same spectrum-hopping technology?
    • WiMedia has created a MAC that basically allows for multiple protocols to use the same bandwidth. WUSB like Bluetooth is just one of protocols making bandwidth reservations (others might be IP or W1394).

      The only other difference when this is all said and done will be the spectral mask used, as Bluetooth would most likely require a single world wide radio.
  • Why can't tech companies let the crippled die a peaceful death ? Bluetooth was a neat idea like ten years ago when I first read about it in Byte magazine!!!1! Why can't we just turn 802.11 into a general-purpose wireless data scheme that encompasses Bluetooth functionality ? Why must all 802.11 devices be strictly for networking ? Why can't a stupid mouse or remote control send its blabber over WiFi ?
    • Mousemovements over WiFi? Ok, so you want to move your mouse while being more than dozen or so meters away from your laptop? And you seem to have really quick fingers, needing all the bandwidth, are you not? Make sense, really...
      WiFi is for long range, high speed network transfer. For everything else I use bluetooth (mouse/keyboard connection, navigating my presentation on my Linux laptop using my mobile, small network connection from my Palm), which is a nice, short range, fast enough for me multiple purpo
      • Of course I won't be using my mouse from afar, but why couldn't we just have low-power WiFi devices instead of a wholly different standard ? It just seems like so much work just to keep up with the status of Bluetooth for what little it does, and even when it works, it's such a pain in the butt to get different devices to cooperate on the same host.
  • bad wireless all around.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972