A new version of the Bluetooth short-range radio standard is due, this time aimed at ultra-low power devices - including watches.

As reported over on Inform, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group - the industry body behind the standard - is putting the finishing touches on chip designs that use significantly less power than current implementations.

The group's executive director Michael Foley claims that the new ultra-low power radio chips will "enable an entirely new market for Bluetooth and allow it to be used in a category of products that Bluetooth just couldn't be used in before."

While Foley is hesitant to offer firm details on precisely what products he's thinking of - besides a brief nod of the hat to the health and fitness market, suggesting that devices such as heartbeat monitors and pedometers could ditch their proprietary technologies for Bluetooth and enjoy a wider compatibility with third-party receivers - he did suggest that the new standard's extremely low power draw will make Bluetooth connected watches a far more viable proposition.

While watches - and bracelets - which connect to a mobile via Bluetooth in order to alert the wearer to incoming calls aren't new, the requirement for an always-on Bluetooth connection makes them extremely power hungry and in need of constant recharging. By dropping the power draw of the Bluetooth radio, it becomes far easier to integrate the technology into watches that don't have to be plugged in every night.

A firm release date for the new chips hasn't been set, but Foley claims the technology could find its way into mainstream products by the end of the year.

Are you pleased to see the Bluetooth standard getting slimmed down for today's ultra-portable devices, or just disappointed that there's no mention of a speed boost or support for surround-sound audio in the announcement? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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