Bluetooth is one of the many technologies that many of use couldn’t get through a day without using. It connects us to our phones, our cars, and a myriad of other devices we use for entertainment and work. The Bluetooth SIG has announced the release of Bluetooth Core Specification 4.0 and an enhancement to the specification called Bluetooth low energy is also part of the package.
Bluetooth low energy will allow a myriad of devices that were previously unable to utilize Bluetooth to take advantage of the specifications and connectivity it offers. Bluetooth low energy will be ideal for markets like healthcare, sport and fitness, security, and home entertainment. The Bluetooth SIG claims that devices using Bluetooth low energy can last for years with power from common coin-cell batteries.
“With today’s announcement the race is on for product designers to be the first to market,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director, Bluetooth SIG. “Bluetooth low energy modules for all sorts of new products may now be qualified – this is an important step towards our goal of enabling new markets with Bluetooth wireless technology. For example, the Continua Health Alliance has already selected Bluetooth low energy technology as a transport for the next version of its guidelines.”
Hallmark features of Bluetooth low energy include ultra-low peak, average, and idle mode power consumption. Low cost is a main feature and the specification allows for multi-vendor interoperability and an enhanced range. Bluetooth low energy has a maximum range of over 100 meters.
Data transfers with the low power specification will be at 1Mbps with very short data packets of 8-octet minimum and 27-octet maximum. The specification uses adaptive frequency hopping common to all versions of Bluetooth and operates in the 2.4GHz ISM band. Latency for the spec is as low as 3ms allowing an authenticated session to be established and data sent in a tiny amount of time.
The specification is also very secure with full AES-128 encryption using CCM to encrypt and authenticate data packets. Bluetooth low energy uses 32-bit access addresses on every packet for each slave allowing billions of devices to be connected.
“Today’s news from the Bluetooth SIG is an exciting step forward for technology in mobile health and wellness devices,” said Rick Cnossen, president and board chair, Continua Health Alliance. “Our selection of Bluetooth low energy for the Continua Version Two Design Guidelines extends exciting new capabilities to manufacturers and consumers alike, as well as enabling additional use cases within the Continua ecosystem.”
Bluetooth low energy allows for two types of implementation — single-mode and dual-mode. In dual-mode, the Bluetooth low energy functionality is integrated into an existing classic Bluetooth controller. In single-mode, ideal for highly integrated and small devices, the spec uses a lightweight link layer for ultra low power idle mode operation. The new specification will usher in a new range of connected devices and Nokia is already at work on integrating the tech into products.