Nokia One-Ups Bluetooth with WiBree

Finland’s mobile phone maker Nokia has taken the wraps off Wibree, a new short range wireless technology designed to enable communication between mobile devices. Sounds like Bluetooth, right? Yes, but one key difference is that it’s up to ten times more power-efficient than Bluetooth.

“Wibree technology is an important development that opens up new market opportunities and a whole new range of possibilities for mobile users,” said Dr. Bob Iannucci, head of Nokia Research Center, in a statement. “Our aim is to establish an industry standard faster than ever before by offering an interoperable solution that can be commercialized and incorporated into products quickly.”

WiBree is designed to operate over ranges of zero to ten meters and offer data rates up to 1 Mbps—which doesn’t offer anything over existing Bluetooth solutions—but is designed to be a low-cost solution which can be deployed in devices where extremely low power consumption is of paramount importance. We’ve all seen how Bluetooth phones, mice, headsets, and other peripherals chew through batteries: WiBree can use power up to 10 times more efficiently, making it practical for products like toys, watches, sports sensors, intelligent jewelry, health monitors, and wireless keyboards. And WiBree can operate alongside Bluetooth without interference. In fact, Nokia envisions embedded chips which carry both Bluetooth and WiBree technology.

Nokia says it hopes the first commercial products using WiBree will appear during the second quarter of 2007; in the meantime, Nokia is working with partners like Broadcom, Epson, CSR, and Nordic Semiconductor to create interoperability specifications and to make the technology available through an open forum.

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