Bluetooth 3.0 officially launched

April 23, 2009 | 10:12

Tags: #80211g #80211n #bluetooth #firmware

Companies: #bluetooth-sig

Fans of wireless communications technology remember this week: Bluetooth 3.0 has gone official.

As reported by PC Magazine, the latest revision to the Bluetooth Core Specification was officially unveiled earlier this week – and it brings some nice new features to the party.

Building on the existing Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth 3.0 increases the speed of data transfer dramatically by piggybacking on available 802.11 wireless network connections – borrowing a small chunk of their bandwidth in order to shuffle data faster. While this functionality requires a second radio – either 802.11g or 802.11n – it does boost throughput to a not unimpressive 24Mb/s.

With Broadcom, Atheros, Nordic Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, and Cambridge Silicon Radio all having finalised chip designs for the new standard it's thought that consumer devices featuring Bluetooth 3.0 support could hit the market before the end of the year. Even better is the news from special interest group chairman Mike Foley who announced that “any phone or computer that has Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and a 802.11g card may be able to be updated to Bluetooth 3.0 via driver, firmware, or software update.” There's a clear “may” in that statement, but it at least holds the promise that some existing devices will be able to enjoy the speed boost brought by Bluetooth 3.0.

Sadly for anyone who uses Bluetooth to stream audio, while data transfer speeds were a clear selling point of the 3.0 specification revision, audio quality wasn't. With many existing Bluetooth audio implementations proving disappointing – including the newer A2DP technology – hopes that Bluetooth 3.0 would resolve the issues appear dashed.

Does Bluetooth really have a use beyond hands-free kits for 'phones, or should we give up and concentrate on 802.11-based wireless technologies? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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