Bluetooth 3.0
New version draws on 802.11 wi-fi technology to make video streaming a reality

Announced yesterday in Tokyo at a meeting of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the third-generation version of Bluetooth technology, now officially known as Bluetooth v3.0 + HS, is on the way to entertainment devices near you. And it's a long way from those road-warrior hands-free earpieces.

The new version, expected to start appearing in products within the next nine months or so, relies on IEEE 802.11 technology - yes, the same as wi-fi - to give transfer speeds said to be up to 24MBps.

That's eight times faster than the current v2.1 protocol, adopted two years ago, and suddenly makes it a viable technology for streaming HD content between devices.

The Bluetooth SIG suggests a possible application is showing HD camcorder footage on a flatscreen TV, but the much greater speed should also mean benefits in any application where music, video or pictures need to be streamed securely and wirelessly.

More after the break

Of course, transferring data at these speeds could make portable devices power-hungry, but the system uses advanced power-management to ensure the system is kept in standby until data is actually being sent and received.

In other words, data is sent in short bursts of radio transmission, and then the system 'goes back to sleep'.

You can almost forgive Bluetooth SIG executive director Mike Foley, announcing the new technology, for saying that "Like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, this latest version was 'born to go fast.'

"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.

"When the speed of 802.11 is overkill, the connection returns to normal operation on a Bluetooth radio for optimal power management and performance.”

It's expected that Bluetooth v3.0 + HS devices could start to appear by the end of the year, but more are likely to hit the shops around this time next year.