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Showing posts with label Bluetooth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bluetooth. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Beacons, Bluetooth, NFC and WiFi


Not sure if you have heard about some kind of Beacons that will be used to guide us everywhere. There are Bluetooth Beeacons, iBeacon, Paypal Beacon, probably more. So here is an attempt to understand some of these things.

The first is this introductory presentation which seems to be extremely popular on Slideshare:



Once we understand the concept of Beacons, there is another presentation that helps us understand iBeacons and Paypal Beacons as follows:



Bluetooth Beacons vs Wifi vs NFC is an interesting article comparing the Beacons with WiFi & NFC. Read it here


Why Beacons may be NFC killer, GigaOm has a good answer here:
iBeacon could be a NFC killer because of its range. NFC tags are pretty cheap compared to NFC chips, but NFC tags are required on each product because NFC works only in very close proximity. In theory, NFC range is up to 20cm (7.87 inches), but the actual optimal range is less than 4cm (1.57 inches). Also, mobile devices need to contain a NFC chip that can handle any NFC communications. On the other hand, iBeacons are a little expensive compared to NFC chips, but iBeacons range is up to 50 meters. Not all phones have NFC chips, but almost all have Bluetooth capability.
Many years back there was a proximity marketing craze using Bluetooth. Then the craze died down and everyone started focussing on other approaches for LBS. I also suggested a Small Cells based approach here. Its good to see that we are going to use a new Bluetooth based approach for similar functions.

By the end of the year we will hopefully know if this is a new hype or a successful technology. Issues with battery drains, security, interoperability, etc. will need to be sorted asap for its success.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

‘Proximity Marketing’ and ‘Location Based Services’ (LBS) using ‘Small Cells’

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Security issues in new technologies

I have attended a lot of events/talks in the last month where people talked about Augmented Reality, Proximity Marketing, QR codes, etc. but nobody seems to talk about security. Its being taken for granted. For example MAC's have been said to be Virus proof and they probably are but other Apps may be infectable and in this case its the Java that has allowed a MAC botnet about 0.6 Million strong.

Some years back proximity marketing via Bluetooth was a big thing and we were lucky to be involved with couple of projects making it possible but then the Bluetooth virus came to light and people stopped leaving their Bluetooth on in public places. Doesnt look like Bluetooth based proximity marketing has gone very far since those days.

QR codes is a simple way to for advertisers redirect the end users to their websites but then recently I read that a rogue QR code can be used to redirect the end users to a site that can be used to hack their phones. The main thing pointed out is that 99% of the time QR codes are read by mobile phones and 99% of these phones are either iPhones or Android's, which can help narrow down the exploits.

There is a good chance that when there is mass adoption of these new technologies, Security is going to be a big issue. Not sure if enough is being done. If there are any pointers on security issues please feel free to comment.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

'Wi-Fi Direct': New Standard and competition to Femtocells and Bluetooth


Last month when I blogged about WiFi as 4G, i got mixed reactions. Some suggesting that WiFi is just a filler till Femtocells become prevalent and others suggested that in future all devices would with 3G/HSPA/LTE/4G enabled so there may be no need for WiFi.

Well, yesterday I read about the new Wi-Fi Direct (formerly known as 'Wi-Fi Peer-to-Peer') standard that is supposed to make WiFi devices easier to operate with other WiFi devices. I havent explored the security options but I am sure they are well thought out.

Before we go further, you may want to check out the WiFi Direct official video below:



There is an interesting piece in PC World that compares Bluetooth 4.0 with Wi-Fi Direct. I am sure soon both these camps would be listing the merit of their standards and dissing the other one. According to the Register, Bluetooth never really took off in the US. They think Wi-Fi has bigger clout and this would translate to WiFi Direct success.

WiFi Alliance has a recently revised FAQ on Wi-Fi Direct here. Very interesting read. A Media presentation is embedded below and can be downloaded from Slideshare here.

The devices have already started undergoing certification and commercial devices should be available by the end of this year.

Finally, while there is a lot of debate going on about WiFi v/s Femtocells and I respect everyone's views and arguments on this debate, I think Wi-Fi direct may give a kicking to the Femtocell manufacturers where it hurts the most.

One of the strong arguments in the favour of Femtocell is the seamless roaming. With Wi-Fi direct you may be able to seamlessly connect to various Wi-Fi devices and Access points. This certainly counts big time in their favour.

Certainly the gate is still wide open for some Femtocell based killer apps which would turn the tide in their favour but for now I am looking forward to some Wi-Fi direct devices.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Essentials Of Short Range Wireless Standards

Essentials Of Short Range Wireless Standards presented by Nick Hunn, WiFore Consulting in Short Range Wireless Special Interest Group, 8th July 2010, The Technology Partnership (TTP), Cambridge.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Mobile Phone Developments May 2010


HTC's 4G [sic] Phone is al ready to be rolled out. It is supposed to allow to transfer data averaging speeds of 3 to 6 megabits per second, and bursts hitting 10 Mbps. Ok, I can visualise some suspicious smiles but that's marketing. Its the data speeds of a normal HSPA network but it sells.

Inside the Evo is a 1 gigahertz Snapdragon processor, 512MB of ram, and 1 gig of built in memory. On top of those screaming specs are a 480×800 display, as well as two (count em!) cameras, the better of which packs 8 megapixels. Running it all is the newest version of Android (2.1), as well as HTC’s Sense UI for a little extra eye-candy. All told, this looks like an amazing phone to finally make use of Sprint’s fancy new network, and it may just be their best bet for reversing their falling fortunes.

The Evo 4G will allow for simultaneous voice and data and will be the first smartphone to ship with a YouTube HQ player and a video chat app from Qik to be used with the front-facing camera. Though Sprint's onstage Qik demo didn't work, we were impressed with the Evo 4G's speed (Sprint brought in a 4G tower for the event) as well the handset's 3D gaming capabilities and HDMI output.

As we learned at CTIA 2010, other goodies include an 8-megapixel camera on back, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, Android 2.1, and an extra-large 4.3-inch capacitive touch screen.



Tired of losing your cell phone? Maybe you need a Zomm.

The new gadget is billed as a wireless leash for mobile phones reminding you when you've left your cell phone behind. Here's how it works:

You just pair the nugget sized Zomm with your phone over Bluetooth. Then you clip the Zomm onto you or attach it to your keychain. When your cell phones gets more than 30 feet away from Zomm, the Zomm unit starts to vibrate, flash lights and then eventually lets out a wail.

You can also use the Zomm as a Bluetooth speaker so you can answer calls through it, instead of talking straight into your phone.

The leash idea can work in reverse too. If you're the type who loses their keys more than their phone, you can just attach Zomm to your keys and then whenever you lose your keys, you can call Zomm and set off its alarm.

There's also a panic button. In case of emergency you can just press it and get help immediately, without dialing on your cell phone.

Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has named ZOMM as ‘One to Watch’, because of its innovative use of Bluetooth technology and universal appeal.

“Through the use of Bluetooth wireless technology, ZOMM provides an array of convenient applications for users,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG.

“Its simple application of Bluetooth technology appeals to the masses – nobody wants to lose their mobile phone.”



Verizon Wireless and LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc. announced the LG Ally™ will be available in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores beginning May 20. The first Android device from LG, the Ally is the perfect assembly of futuristic, stylish design and 3G Android power for customers looking to tackle life's most challenging feats and everyday ventures. Verizon Wireless customers can pre-order the phone at www.verizonwireless.com beginning May 13.


Until now, mobile users have been faced with a choice -- either type on a tiny keyboard or use a touchscreen keypad.

Neither is perfect but, so far, tiny but real keyboards have been winning out for many people. One of the many reasons cited by some BlackBerry users for not switching to an iPhone or similar device is that sensitive touchscreen keypad.

Some manufacturers have tried to give users the best of both worlds, a touchscreen and a pull-out keyboard, but search giant Google has another idea: make all mobile-phone keyboards obsolete.

With the recent release of its own phone, the Nexus One, users are beginning to experiment with what Google hopes is the future of mobile search: voice-and picture-based searching.

"Voice, we think, is just a natural way to solve a problem that exists on all phones, which is that typing is quite difficult, especially in certain languages like Japanese," said Alex Nicolaou from Google's office in Waterloo, Ont..

"Input methods are relatively onerous, whereas saying a brief phrase . . . is extremely fast . . . and there are just times when a picture really is worth 1,000 words.

"If you're standing outside a landmark and you want to know about it, it's obviously going to be much, much simpler to take a photo of that landmark and have the system tell you what it is, than it would be to figure out what name to type in, especially in a foreign country."

Google admits both are still in relatively early development stages and are not very reliable.

For voice searches, short strings of words work best. Even in noisy cafes, most four-or five-word searches worked well during testing. Nicolaou said one misheard word won't necessarily throw off your search results.

Google has hinted at some future features incorporating voice and image recognition. Engineers are working to improve the ability to photograph a printed page so it can be accurately scanned into text and quickly translated into another language. In a video posted online, a Google employee scans a menu from a German restaurant and uses his phone to translate it into English.

Google also hopes that, eventually, travellers will be able to speak a phrase into their phone, have it translated into another language and played back through their phone's speaker.


This season, big handset makers including Nokia, Microsoft and Motorola are betting you’ll want to flaunt cute, palm-shaped devices that look more like compact powder cases than brick-shaped mini-tablets.

Motorola is likely to introduce a new phone next month called Flipout that will have a 2.8-inch display, a 3.1-megapixel camera and a twist-out keyboard. We haven’t tested it yet, but on looks alone, it’s fabulous, darling.

Motorola’s square-shaped phone follows the release of Microsoft’s fresh-looking Kin One earlier this month. The Kin One has a 2.6-inch display, a slide-out keyboard, and looks like a rounded square when closed. In September, Nokia introduced the Twist on Verizon, a squarish phone with a 2.5-inch display. Even LG has a square-shaped phone called the Lotus, which has been available on Sprint for more than a year, and though it’s not exactly been a big seller, its looks are hot, hot, hot.

Microsoft released the final version of the desktop Office 2010, along with which it made available a flavor aimed at mobile phones, namely Office Mobile 2010. The owners of a device powered by Windows Mobile 6.5 can now take advantage of the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint editing capabilities of the application while on the go.

Among the features that Office Mobile 2010 comes around with, we can count SharePoint integration (users can easily access and edit documents stored on a Microsoft SharePoint 2010 site), Bluetooth controller mode for PowerPoint presentations, access to SharePoint Workspace Mobile, the possibility to easily take notes on the phone and to insert voice clips or pictures in them, and others more.

“Effective today, Office Mobile 2010 will be available for free via Windows Phone Marketplace for all Windows Mobile 6.5 phones with a previous version of Office Mobile. People using Office Mobile 2010 can perform lightweight editing of Office documents and take notes on the go.

As if mobile phone cameras weren't complex enough, Sharp has just announced a tiny 720p 3D camera for its mobile devices.

The 3D Camera Module has been made to fit inside either a compact point and shoot or a smartphone. The camera is crammed full of the latest technology, all of which enable it to capture both moving and still high resolution 3D images.

Things like colour synchronising processing, as well as 'fast readout' technology, help the tiny little camera to produce its images.

Sharp has made use of complicated high-density mounting technology in order to pack so many features in to this tiny device.

The company insists that the cameras will go into mass production by the end of the year.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Bluetooth 4.0 promises to be more successful than Bluetooth 3.0

Apparently the Bluetooth 3.0 has a problem that it consumes too much power so even though the specs have been available for quite some time, they haven't been rolled out.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has said that the new version, Bluetooth 4.0, could be launching in the 4th quarter of this year with devices such as headsets, phones and PC’s all getting the technology.

The latest specification allows devices with smaller batteries to utilise Bluetooth. Previous versions of BT required that a device had at lease a AAA or larger capacity battery to function. The new 4.0 specifications allow for smaller devices that require coin-cell batteries to run.

As well as utilising less power, the device also has higher speed data transfer. Version 3.0 was launched last year although it kind of fell flat on it’s face due to the power requirements needed. Version 4.0 fixes those problems.

The new specification will carry the high-speed Wi-Fi feature introduced with Bluetooth 3.0. That allows devices to jump onto Wi-Fi 802.11 networks, where it can transfer data at up to 25Mbits per second.

Hopefully with the lower power requirements and the options to switch to 802.11 networks we should start seeing more devices using the Bluetooth specification.

However, Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin believes the new standard nonetheless holds considerable appeal.

"These protocols are designed to be very efficient because they are delivering small bits of data," Golvin told PC World, adding that current technologies expended far too much energy to transmit data over short distances. “They'd be like pulling out a cannon to kill a mouse,” Golvin said.

Despite being certified nearly a year ago, the first Bluetooth 3.0+HS devices have yet to appear on the market.

Monday, 15 February 2010

New Technologies for Mobile Phone Theft prevention

Design Out Crime: Mobile Phone solutions from Design Council on Vimeo.


Three prototype solutions for preventing mobile phone theft have been unveiled.

The i-migo, the 'tie' solution and TouchSafe have been developed to counter crimes such as mobile phone identity fraud, which rose by over 70 per cent in 2009.

TouchSafe uses Near Field Communications (NFC) technology similar to that used by the Oyster Card and requires the handset's owner to carry a small card with them that they touch on the phone every time they make a purchase.

The 'tie' solution makes an association between a handset and theSIM chip so that other SIMs cannot be used on the handset should the mobile phone be stolen.

And the i-migo is a small device carried by the mobile phone's owner that sounds an alert and locks the handset should it be taken outside of a set range. Additionally, it automates the back-up of any data stored on the device.

The prototypes were inspired by a Home Office initiative to develop new ways of preventing mobile phone theft and will be shown off atMobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said: "As new technology creates new opportunities for the user it can also provide criminals with opportunities as well.

"I believe the solutions developed by this challenge have the potential to be as successful as previous innovations like Chip and Pin, which reduced fraud on lost or stolen cards to an all-time low, and would encourage industry to continue working with us and take them up," Campbell continued.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Bluetooth 3.0 to see the light of day soon

Picture Source: 3g.co.uk and simbasics.co.uk

Remember Bluetooth 3.0? Its been a while and the world has changed in the mean time.

Samsung S8500 will launch next-generation Bluetooth 3.0, a protocol that will establish transfer speeds up to eight times faster than 2.0… 24mbps!

Samsung have not been officially announced yet to carry the Bluetooth 3.0 on the S8500 but the device has been leaked to carry 3.0 Bluetooth connectivity that will dwarf previous 3mbps speeds.

The listing from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group it is slim, compact, will come in several colours, and also contains quad-band GSM/EDGE radios. Other details are scarce, and it’s likely that the spec may change considerably before we get our hands on the actual handset

Broadcom is also focusing on Bluetooth 3.0, which allows Bluetooth-centric designers to use the 802.11 physical layer to provide Wi-Fi-speed data transfers in a Bluetooth environment. Bluetooth 3.0 supports bulk synchronization of music libraries between PCs and music players or phones, supports wireless transfer of photos to printers, and sends video files from cameras or phones to computers or televisions. An alternative for Wi-Fi-centric designers, says Ochikubo, is Wi-Fi Direct, which enables Wi-Fi devices to connect and share data without joining a traditional home, office, or hot-spot network. Whatever approach Broadcom’s customers choose to take, he says, he sees Broadcom’s recently announced InConcert Maestro software platform as making the operation simple and transparent for the end user.

In addition to focusing on the higher speeds that Bluetooth 3.0’s Wi-Fi physical layer affords, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group is also focusing on low-power applications with its “Bluetooth low-energy,” or Bluetooth 4.0, specification. Bluetooth low energy will address markets such as health care, sports and fitness, security, and home entertainment.

Monday, 7 December 2009

ZigBee and Short Range Wireless Overview

Couple of interesting presentations are available on the Cambridge Wireless website for Short range Wireless technologies and ZigBee.

The First one, "ZigBee® Applications in sub-1GHz Frequency Range" is available here.

The Second one, "SHORT RANGE WIRELESS OVERVIEW" is available here.




The above is an interesting chart from the second presentation showing the comparison of different short range wireless technologies.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Golden-i: Futuristic Bluetooth Headset with Virtual PC Display



Microdisplay technology maker Kopin Corp. reports it has partnered with Motorola Inc. to introduce a wireless headset with a high-definition virtual display and speech recognition for remote control of things such as smart phones and PCs.

Taunton-based Kopin (Nasdaq: KOPN) teamed up with Motorola’s Enterprise Mobility Solutions division to put a 15-inch virtual PC display together with a microphone and earpiece into the headset it calls the “Golden-i.”

According to material from Kopin, the Golden-i uses Bluetooth 2.0 to connect to the devices, as well as to Bluetooth-enabled peripherals such as a mouse, touchscreen or keyboard. Golden-i runs on the Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 operating system, and once connected, users will see their PC desktop screen on the 15-inch virtual display.

To control the connected device hands-free, Kopin is incorporating the VoCon3200 software from Burlington-based Nuance Communications Inc. Golden-i also uses Nuance’s text-to-speech application to read back documents, e-mail messages, web content or any text on the display screen. According to Kopin officials, it supports up to 20 languages.

If no interface peripheral such as a Bluetooth mouse is available, Golden-i can use its built-in Hillcrest Labs 6-axis, real-time position tracker to allow control of the connected device using head gestures. The device also provides a mini-USB port, and a removable Micro SD card slot taht can support up to 32GB of memory.

The target market for Golden-i, according to Kopin, is remote workers looking to quickly connect to a PC or network for information, such as outside sales staff. It is also aimed at network support personnel, as it can support connections to multiple devices, Kopin said.Kopin, which counts the defense industry as a major customer, last December reported it had landed $3.1 million from the U.S. military for displays used in weapon sights.



Once connected to a host device, such as a PC, users see their PC desktop screen on the 15-inch virtual display and with Nuance’s VoCon3200 software they can control it using voice commands in a number of languages. Kopin claims this software provides more than 90 percent proficiency straight out of the box, and the more it is used, the better it works.

Golden-i requires no push-to-talk buttons and is ready to respond to a user’s request whether in light hibernation or during intermittent use. Golden-i also readily accepts conventional user interface from any host device touch screen, keyboard or wireless mouse and integrates Nuance text-to-speech, enabling Golden-i to read back any text displayed in a number of common languages.

Running on the Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 platform, Golden-i can remotely wake a PC from practically any location and, when work is finished, the PC can be placed in hibernation with a single spoken command. The headset can also remotely control up to seven other devices or networks at one time, similar to the way users control software applications on a PC desktop.
It operates much like a highly mobile server, a hub between various host devices. If a USB interface or removable memory is required, Golden-i provides a mini-USB port and a removable Micro SD card slot capable of supporting up to 32GB. Supported by Texas Instruments’ third generation OMAP dual processor platform, a single 1200 mA/hr li-ion battery should provide more than eight hours of standard use.

While the Golden-i can be used just about anywhere, it is designed for “mobile information snacking”, rather than continuous use over long periods. Initial development of the unit has focused on industrial applications, so Kopin is seeking to engage several industrial organizations in several months of in-depth field testing and evaluation. Kopin hopes to incorporate any improvements and refinements uncovered during testing into its Golden-i products, which are expected to be available in 2010.

Kopin believes Golden-i will free users from the need to carry a PC or laptop about with them. Freedom from work, though, is another matter entirely.

You can read all about the hardware and software details and features of this device here.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Bluetooth yet to become popular in Japan

Plen: The Bluetooth Controlled Robot

Interesting article from the Recent Signature Magazine:

Tokyo is the high-tech capital of a gadget-loving country. And yet, “consumer awareness and acceptance of Bluetooth technology has lagged in Japan,” according to Emma Naudo, an analyst at IMS Research, a U.K.-based firm that publishes an annual report on the subject.

Derek Soh is the Bluetooth SIG’s marketing director for APAC and Japan. He agrees with Naudo’s assessment, noting a Millward Brown study that showed only 60 percent of the Japanese population is aware of the technology, versus up to 85 percent elsewhere. This is puzzling, given that Japan has so many companies developing and pushing the technology. According to Soh, among companies represented in the Bluetooth SIG, Japan has the third-highest number of Bluetooth SIG Associate members after the United States and Taiwan, and it boasts the fourth-highest number of Adopter members.

So why is Bluetooth technology under performing in a land that is often the first to embrace the latest technology?

“Headset-to-handset connection has been Bluetooth technology’s biggest driver in handsets,” says Alex Green, also of IMS Research. “So if the headset market hasn’t taken off in Japan, it’s going to reduce the demand for Bluetooth in handsets.”

In Europe and the United States, concerns about the health effects of cellphone usage and laws against using mobile handsets while driving fueled the proliferation of wireless headsets. However,in Japan people tend to spend less time driving and more time taking public transit. There is also a cultural preference for mobile text messaging over making voice calls. While the Japanese government enacted stiffer penalties in 2004 for driving while talking on a cell phone, the uptick in Bluetooth enabled headset sales has been modest. “Headsets just don’t appear to be available in as many retail outlets as in other countries,” says Green.

According to Mihoko Kasuga, an executive with SoftBank Mobile, the nation’s third-largest and fastest growing mobile phone service provider, Japanese consumers see Bluetooth technology more as an added bonus than an essential feature. For transferring data, infrared comes standard on most handsets and is the preferred method of quickly exchanging contact details. Mobile phones also have dedicated e-mail addresses, and Japan’s high-speed 3G networks facilitate data transmission.

But there is light on the horizon. “The number of Bluetooth enabled handsets in Japan is forecast to grow from just under 20 million—30 to 40 percent of those shipped—in 2007 to over 60 million, 80 percent, in 2013, a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 24 percent,” says Naudo.

In addition to more headset use, there are other reasons for the optimistic forecast. “Streaming music services over mobile networks, such as Japan’s Chaku Uta, will be key drivers of Bluetooth inclusion in cellular handsets,” predicts Andy Bae, a senior analyst at New York-based ABI Research.

Bluetooth technology is making inroads in several other Japanese sectors as well. The auto industry is installing the wireless specification in more and more new cars. “Japanese automakers have lagged behind their European and U.S. counterparts in adopting Bluetooth technology, but now they are beginning to catchup,” noted an article in The Nikkei Weekly, a business newspaper published in Tokyo.

Says Green at IMS Research, “We estimate that around 24 million Bluetooth chips were used by automotive companies in 2007,” although he added that “only around 10 percent of cars produced in 2007 had Bluetooth technology built in at the point of production.” That has opened up a new market for after market products like hands-free kits, navigation devices and A/V systems.

Another sector where Bluetooth technology may see further success in Japan is video games. “In 2007, total shipment volume of Bluetooth enabled gaming devices such as the Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3 surpassed that of Bluetooth enabled headsets – amazing!” says Soh.

Finally, several companies, including Toshiba, will begin rolling out Bluetooth low energy enabled devices aspart of a personal health care ecosystem by mid-2009, and many hope this effort will help familiarize Japanese consumers with the technology. (Click here for more on Toshiba and the Japanese health care market.)

With the ongoing updates to the Bluetooth core specification, developers are planning plenty of newproducts featuring the technology. Whether Japanese consumers will bite remains to be seen.

Beau Miller has lived in Tokyo for 17 years and is the editor of Metropolis, Japan’s weekly lifestyle and listings magazine for the English-speaking community.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

High speed Bluetooth officially announced


From its annual All Hands Meeting in Tokyo this week, the Bluetooth SIG formally adopted Bluetooth Core Specification Version 3.0 High Speed (HS), or Bluetooth 3.0. This latest iteration of the popular short-range wireless technology fulfills the consumers’ need for speed while providing the same wireless Bluetooth experience – faster. Manufacturers of consumer electronics and home entertainment devices can now build their products to send large amounts of video, music and photos between devices wirelessly at speeds consumers expect.

Bluetooth 3.0 gets its speed from the 802.11 radio protocol. The inclusion of the 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL) provides increased throughput of data transfers at the approximate rate of 24 Mbps. In addition, mobile devices including Bluetooth 3.0 will realize increased power savings due to enhanced power control built in.

On March 16, 2009, the WiMedia Alliance announced it is it will transfer all current and future specifications to Bluetooth, and the Wireless USB Forums. After completion of the technology transfer, the WiMedia Alliance will cease operations.

More than eight new Bluetooth enabled products are qualified every working day and more than 19 million Bluetooth units are shipping per week, says the Bluetooth SIG, with over two billion Bluetooth devices in the marketplace.

The Bluetooth SIG includes Promoter group companies Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Toshiba, along with over 11,000 Associate and Adopter member companies. The Bluetooth SIG, Inc. headquarters are located in Bellevue, Washington.

The next-generation Bluetooth is said to operate at similar distances (around 30 feet, best case) to today’s Bluetooth 2.0 but is a lot faster, capable of wireless transfers at a rate of 480Mbps. That’s the amazing 60MB per second, fast enough for high definition videoconferencing or moving files around at a fairly rapid clip.

That kind of speed blows the doors off Bluetooth 2.0, which pokes along at a mere 2.1 Mbps. The new Bluetooth gets its exponentially faster speed by teaming up with ultra wideband technology (UWB). But there are other contenders using similar tech such as Wireless USB (also 480Mbps), and it’s hard to tell how these various protocols will compete with each other, but for sure it is gonna be good for the consumers like us.

Applications

With the availability of Bluetooth version 3.0 HS, consumers can expect to move large data files of videos, music and photos between their own devices and the trusted devices of others, without the need for cables and wires. Some applications consumers will experience include:
  • Wirelessly bulk synchronize music libraries between PC and music player or phone
  • Bulk download photos to a printer or PC
  • Send video files from camera or phone to computer or television

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Evolution Of Bluetooth

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a Short Range Wireless SIG (special interest group) conference organised by Cambridge Wireless. The conference was about Bluetooth technology, where it’s heading and future of Bluetooth. Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed around 10 years ago. Bluetooth SIG is privately held non profit organisation whose main tasks are to publish Bluetooth specifications, administer the qualification program, protect the Bluetooth trademarks and evangelize Bluetooth wireless technology.


The Bluetooth SIG global headquarters are in Bellevue, Washington, USA and has local offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, China, Seoul, Korea, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Taiwan and Malmo, Sweden
During the presentation in the conference there were discussions on technical and general stuff about short range wireless and hence I learned some amazing things especially about Bluetooth technology and its application in our daily life. Although my expertise and main focus lies in the area of 3GPP technology i.e. HSPA+, LTE etc I occasionally do pay an interest in Bluetooth and other W-Fi technologies. After attending the SIG conference I do know now that there are some amazing things that can be done with Bluetooth other than just using it as a Hands free kit while talking on you mobile. There are already around 2 billion Bluetooth enabled devices in various forms in the market place.

In terms of business there is also an enormous scope to develop customized applications that can work with Bluetooth and UWB (ultra-wide band, ultraband, etc.).

UWB is advanced form of Bluetooth where the MAC/PHY layer is changed to accommodate high data rates.

UWB is a radio technology that can be used at very low energy levels for short-range high-bandwidth communications by using a large portion of the radio spectrum thus enabling higher data rates. UWB communications transmit in a way that doesn't interfere largely with other more traditional 'narrow band' and continuous carrier wave uses in the same frequency band. IEEE 802.15.4a in its draft standard and working group has proposed UWB as an alternative PHY layer.

Low energy Bluetooth is another emerging flavour which will be talked very often in the coming days. Bluetooth low energy is the next generation of wireless standard from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) addressing a completely new set of applications but building on the installed base of Bluetooth devices. As the name implies devices based on Bluetooth low energy consumes only a fraction of the power of the classic Bluetooth radio thus allowing small and low cost implementations.

Bluetooth low energy technology is designed with two equally important implementation options:

  • Single-mode (stand-alone) implementation: Targeted at applications requiring low power consumption and small size; typically button cell battery -powered devices, for e.g. sports & fitness equipment and sensor devices
  • Dual-mode implementation - an extension to a classic Bluetooth radio: Targeted at mobile phones and PCs.

Bluetooth low energy is very robust through frequency hopping compared to other similar technologies. It is very secure through optional 128 bit AES encryption.
The significant factor of Bluetooth low energy is its low power consumption which is by very low standby activity, fast connection setup and low overhead in data packets.

Bluetooth low energy technology explores new market opportunities. It is sometimes unbelievable to see where and how Bluetooth low energy technology can be used. One of the most amazing uses of this technology which I came across was when I came to know that a double amputee can walk again using Bluetooth. Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bleill (USA Army) lost both his legs above the knees when a bomb exploded under his Humvee while on patrol in Iraq on October 15, 2006. He has 32 pins in his hip and a 6-inch screw holding his pelvis together.




Now, he's starting to walk again with the help of prosthetic legs outfitted with Bluetooth technology more commonly associated with hands-free cell phones.
Bluetooth is definitely evolving and low energy Bluetooth is very much part of its evolution. The technology has a major parto play in our daily lives and the currently the Sports and Health Care is the significant area where the major focus is lying.

Bluetooth Low energy has a major role to play in sports and fitness. I personally has experienced the use of the Bluetooth device when I visit to Gym. I have to put the device around my chest and the machine then displays my heart rate transmitted by the Bluetooth device. This is amazing as I can constantly monitor my heart rate and based on that I can vary the intensity of my workout.

Thus sports person has sensors i.e Bluetooth device located on the body, shoes, garments and other fitness gear measuring the exercise session such as duration, speed, distance, cadence, slope, location, heart rate, energy consumption etc. Together with this information, when using GPS location related information can be combined with the data. Thus using a Bluetooth device is like training with a virtual partner. The use of the application can motivate and give feedback to the user and remote users, e.g. coach, team mate or a virtual partner. They can access the data remotely and then make decisions based on it for example the exercise can be simulated on exercise bike or treadmill along with multimedia content.



Low energy Bluetooth device thus helps play a significant role in sports persons real time activity and training monitoring.

I have seen Golfers using Bluetooth devices to record their swing. Golfers can thus monitor the real time data and thus can improve their swing. Golf player’s motions are recorded with sensor devices and the data is uploaded to a host device. The recorded data or values are transmitted to web service where the athletes can be remotely monitored online or offline by coach, audience, etc.

Health care is another major area where low energy Bluetooth devices have a significant role to play. There is a potentially market of greater than US$1 Billion for wireless health monitoring products. Examples of currently available medical devices using “Classic” Bluetooth technology are:

  • ECG Monitors
  • Cardiac Defibrillators
  • Blood Glucose Meters
  • Insulin Pumps
  • Pulse Oximeters
  • Blood pressure Monitors
  • Weight Scales

Examples of healthcare devices suited to Bluetooth low energy technology, requiring very low power and long battery life are:

  • Thermometer
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Weight Scale
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • PERS
  • Blood Glucose Meter

Let’s consider the example of how the technology can help in the case of Diabetes management. The patient will be fitted with a small low energy Bluetooth device i.e. Blood Glucose meters typically powered by small coin batteries, operating for a year or more. Blood glucose measurement, data is automatically sent to the mobile phone and to the central Personal Health Record. Patient and care providers automatically alerted if the sugar level is outside preset limits and reminders and advice can be sent back to the patient and test compliance can be monitored.

Low energy Bluetooth devices can used in the consumer electrnics control as shownin the picture below.


I must say I was really impressed to finds out how the Bluetooth technology can be used in our daily life. Just by using a simple and small device many patients life can be saved as they are monitored constantly.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Spying: Bluetooth style

According to a security expert, writing in Cnet:

Bluetooth headset users are at risk because of a security hole in the technology and default PINs that don't get changed, he said. Exploiting vulnerabilities someone can break in and steal data from the phones, make calls without the cell phone owner knowing, listen in on and break into conversations, and even spy on people by turning the device into a bug. He advises that people change the default password, disable the Bluetooth on the phones, turn off the headsets when not in use, and limit access to the data and features when communicating with other Bluetooth devices.

There may be more reasons to switch Bluetooth off.

According to an article in Guardian:

Tens of thousands of Britons are being covertly tracked without their consent in a technology experiment which has installed scanners at secret locations in offices, campuses, streets and pubs to pinpoint people's whereabouts.

The scanners, the first 10 of which were installed in Bath three years ago, are capturing Bluetooth radio signals transmitted from devices such as mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras, and using the data to follow unwitting targets without their permission.

The data is being used in a project called Cityware to study how people move around cities. But pedestrians are not being told that the devices they carry around in their pockets and handbags could be providing a permanent record of their journeys, which is then stored on a central database.

The Bath University researchers behind the project claim their scanners do not have access to the identity of the people tracked.

Although initially confined to Bath, Cityware has spread across the planet after the software was made freely available on the internet sites Facebook and Second Life. Thousands of people downloaded the software to equip their home and office computers with Cityware scanners.

More than 1,000 scanners across the world at any time detect passing Bluetooth signals and send the data to Cityware's central database. Those with access to the database admit they do not know precisely how many scanners have been created, but there are known to be scanners in San Diego, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Toronto and Berlin.

In Bath alone scanners are tracking as many as 3,000 Bluetooth devices every weekend. One recent study used the scanners to monitor the movements of 10,000 people in the city.
About 250,000 owners of Bluetooth devices, mostly mobile phones, have been spotted by Cityware scanners worldwide.

Bluetooth tracking technology is already being used to aim advertisements at people, for example as they walk past shops or billboards.

Bluetoothtracking.org, a website based in the Netherlands, is using the same technology to publish live data about people's movements across the town of Apeldoorn. The facility allows people to search the whereabouts of friends and associates without them knowing about it.

Some scientists using the technology describe a future scenario in which homes and cars adapt services to suit their owners, automatically dimming lights, preparing food and selecting preferred television channels.

I like Bluetooth as it makes my life convinient and also because one of our initial projects has been developing of complete Bluetooth marketing solution for a media company. So yes, maybe the next time you go to a shopping mall and get some advertised pumped on your handset using bluetooth then you can blame my company.

Ps: There is another article on Guardian by Dr Vassilis Kostakos from Bath University, defending his team. See here.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Bluetooth Piggybacks WiFi



The popular wireless technology known as Bluetooth could get a lot faster next year by taking advantage of Wi-Fi technology already built into many gadgets.

Linking Bluetooth and Wi-Fi may make it easier and faster to transfer large amounts of music between computers and cell phones, or send pictures from a camera phone to a printer, or video from a camcorder to a TV.

Michael Foley, director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, said the first devices with the technology could be on the market in the middle of next year. The industry group behind Bluetooth, which has more than 10,000 member companies, plans to announce Monday that it is pursuing the technology and will make it available next year.

A fast transfer channel for Bluetooth using a different radio technology, ultra-wideband, was announced in 2006, but delays in getting it to work prompted the Bluetooth group to look at Wi-Fi too, Foley said.

Some products, like laptops, already combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functions, but they work off separate chips. Most likely, manufacturers will use single chips still under development that combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities.

"It does appear that the first products ... are going to be Bluetooth-Wi-Fi, and our members want to take advantage of that," Foley said, adding that all the major makers of Bluetooth chips are participating in the project.
The combination devices will use the regular low-power Bluetooth radios to recognize each other and establish connections. If they need to transfer a large file, they will be able to turn on their Wi-Fi radios, then turn them off to save power after finishing the transfer, Foley said.


The new technology doesn't have a name, and it isn't clear how consumers will be able to tell it apart from Bluetooth-UWB devices, which the industry group still supports.

"This in no way ... changes our vision of using ultra-wideband technology for high speed when that technology is ready," Foley said.

While it started out as a specific radio technology, Bluetooth is turning into an umbrella standard for a variety of different radio technologies. Apart from the high-speed flavors, the SIG has incorporated an ultra-low-power wireless technology developed by Nokia Corp. and previously known as Wibree. Products like watches and pedometers that use that technology are also expected to hit the market next year.

You can also read the Interview of Bluetooth/WiFi Union here.

Personally I think when the UWB platform is fully available, it can support WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0 and then there would be some additional software upgrade for moving between them. Ofcourse the host and the controller both will have to support this new protocol.