Nokia Wibree Becomes Low-Power Bluetooth

Back in late 2006, Finland’s Nokia announced Wibree, a new short range wireless technology it had developed to enable short-range communication between electronic devices. A crucial difference between Wibree and existing Bluetooth technology? Wibree ran on as little as one tenth the power of Bluetooth.

Today, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group and the Wibree Forum announced that the Wibree spec will become part of the Bluetooth specification as an ultra low-power version of Bluetooth technology, ideally suited for small devices like watches, toys, sports equipment, entertainment devices, and healthcare devices—and in some cases, devices may be able to operate as long as a year without recharging.

“Nokia’s contribution of its Wibree technology into the Bluetooth SIG as the basis for ultra low power Bluetooth specifications will continue to enhance the consumer experience of connecting to anything and anyone from anywhere with Bluetooth wireless technology,” said John R. Barr, Ph.D., chair of the Bluetooth SIG board. “This new technology, as the basis of a wide range of ultra low power devices, is a commendable advancement in Bluetooth technology.”

Work has already begun on integrating Wibree’s low-power technology into the existing Bluetooth spec, and a draft version of the new specification is expected to be completed in the first half of 2008. Products based on the new spec should begin hitting the market shortly after the specification is complete.

Nokia was aggressively optimistic about the potential of its Wibree technology, which is has been developing since 2001, but was pushing ahead with developing an open Wibree standard it hoped to have completed by mid-2007. Integrating the technology with Bluetooth will take longer to finalize, but will be a great benefit to having the technology accepted a standard. The Bluetooth SIG estimates Bluetooth already has an 86 percent global consumer awareness.

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