The Bluetooth SIG has announced formal adoption of Version 4.0 of the standard, paving the way for new low-power devices.
Low-power applications are the target of the new standards with claims that devices will be able to support Bluetooth operation on button cell batteries for very long periods, even years.
The standards group said that the new Bluetooth low energy technology supports very short data packets that are transferred at 1 Mbps. All connections use advanced "sniff-subrating" to achieve ultra low duty cycles.
Bluetooth 4.0 is expected to appear in devices such as sports and fitness, health care monitoring and of course PC-style devices like like keyboards and mice. Manufacturers have tended to shy away from Bluetooth for these devices due to the relatively high power requirements so the new standard might result in a resurgence of the standard in the personal computing sector.
Other improvements include an improved modulation scheme designed to boost range over 100 meters depending on the power used. A new 24-bit CRC error detection system is included along with 128-bit AES encryption.
The Bluetooth 4.0 standard looks set to take over the role of many custom designed radio communications systems such as weather sensors, which has the added benefit of expanding the range of possible devices that can interoperate. An external weather station that talks to a standard PC with a Bluetooth 4.0 dongle, for example.
Expanding the availability of wireless data connectivity to virtually any type of battery powered device may result in new types of novel wireless devices as well as adding interactive capabilities to unlikely targets like kitchen scales and wall clocks.
A technical overview of what's new in Bluetooth 4.0 is available here.