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Tuesday, 12 February 2008 01:26

Bluetooth piggy-backs on WiFi for faster data transfer

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The Bluetooth short range wireless technology is good because of its low power, high security and device discovery and pairing but compared to WiFi, it's really slow. Now, the Bluetooth SIG has come up with a way to get the best of both worlds.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has developed the Bluetooth protocols to make momentary use of WiFi where available in both devices to transfer large format entertainment data - music, video, and photos etc - between devices at short range.

This architecture is called 'Alternate MAC/PHY' by Bluetooth SIG members working on the specification. According to Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. "What we're doing is taking classic Bluetooth connections - using Bluetooth protocols, profiles, security and other architectural elements - and allowing it to jump on top of the already present 802.11 radio, when necessary, to send bulky entertainment data, faster."

He added: "When the speed of 802.11 is overkill, the connection returns to normal operation on a Bluetooth radio for optimal power management and performance." The Bluetooth SIG suggests applications for the new technique could include wireless bulk synchronisation of music libraries between PC and MP3 player; bulk download of photos to a printer or PC; sending video files from camera or phone to computer or television.

The core specification enabling the Alternate MAC/PHY is expected to be published to members in mid-2009 with work already well underway.

In 2006, the Bluetooth SIG announced the selection of the WiMedia Alliance brand of ultra wideband technology as a high speed channel for Bluetooth technology. The organisation says this development work continues. However UWB is not yet available. So in the meantime the Bluetooth SIG will make use of IEEE 802.11 (WiFi), a technology already present in many of the devices demanding greater speeds. It says this two-phased roadmap for higher speeds will allow for a steady evolution in Bluetooth devices.

Attempts to create an ultra wideband short range wireless communications standard have been beset by delays and controversy. According to Wikipedia, IEEE_802.15.3a, the attempt to create an IEEE ultra wideband standard failed because of several factors and, in early 2006, the IEEE 802.15.3a Task Group was officially disbanded by the IEEE Standards Association.

Another short range wireless technology, wireless USB is rather more advance. It is being promoted by the USB implementers forum, and in July 2007, the first six products supporting it were certified.


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