Monday, February 11, 2008

Bluetooth Makes Leaps with Help of 802.11

The Mobile World Congress is currently taking place in Barcelona, Spain, which means tons of announcements from the wireless arena are hitting the newswires today. One major development hails from Bluetooth SIG, which revealed its plans to essentially piggyback on the 802.11 wireless standard. In simpler terms, this means that larger pieces of data, like video or big picture files, can be transmitted via Bluetooth. Although this will have an impact on any device that incorporates Bluetooth technology, it's especially important for mobile phones.

Imagine being able to snap a fairly high-resolution shot using your camera phone, then simply beaming it, at full resolution, to your buddy's phone right beside you. Or imagine downloading an entire album of music from a store wirelessly using a Bluetooth phone. Who knows: this could very well be the way music is purchased in the future!

Michael Foley, Ph.D. and Executive Director of Bluetooth SIG explains exactly how the piggyback process will work.

"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."
Foley goes on to explain that, when the hefty speeds of 802.11 aren't required, the connection will simply revert to its normal speed so that devices continue to run smoothly.

The company still plans to launch its own, higher-speed specification in partnership with the WiMedia Alliance brand of ultra wideband technology; but the utilization of 802.11 will help make faster speeds possible today, and not just in the future.

It's typically unlike a company to make a quick, band-aid fix to get the ball rolling; but I commend Bluetooth SIG on finding an interim method using already available resources that will make consumers happy in the immediate future. It's a great move on the Group's part, not only to help bolster the reputation of Bluetooth as a wireless standard, but also to keep up with the growing number of multimedia applications being integrated with mobile devices. One can now do things like stream video and satellite music, take upwards of 5 MP photos, and even watch TV programming right on a handset! It's a natural progression for wireless transmission to follow such rapid development.

With things like faster speeds and bigger memory (as per SanDisk's announcement at CES of a 12 GB microSD card!), the cellular industry is poised for major growth this year.

[Photo: Sony Ericsson's new XPERIA X1 mobile phone, debuted in Spain, is the company's first foray into the Windows Mobile world. In addition to stereo A2DP Bluetooth technology and WiFi support, the phone also includes a 3" touch-screen that can be divided into 9 handy panels; a 3.2 MP digital camera with the ability to also shoot short video; GPS functionality; and a whopping 400 MB of internal memory.