UWB & Power Control

What ever happened to ultra-wideband?

Although the increase to 24Mbps is very welcome, originally the new standard was planned to offer even higher transfer speeds. This is because it was expected that V3.0 would include support for the use of ultra-wideband (UWB) technology. This could have allowed theoretical transfer speeds up to a massive 480Mbps to be achieved over short distances (a couple of metres at most).

The Bluetooth SIG has remained quiet about why UWB was left out of the standard, but it is understood the reasons were to do with technical difficulties in getting the technology to work reliably. Also, a number of companies that were working on UWB technology, such as WiQuest and Intel's in-house Ultra-wideband Networking Operation, have recently been shut down leaving questions marks over the long term viability of UWB.

What else is new?

Besides the increase in transfer speeds there are a couple of other tweaks in the new standard; the most significant of which is the Enhanced Power Control feature. This basically allows the chip to optimise the output power of the signal to more accurately reflect the usage conditions.

For example, if you're using a headset with a phone and suddenly walk away from the phone, the chip can automatically up the signal power as the distance increase and then lower it again as you walk back closer to the phone. The Bluetooth SIG says that increasing the power only when needed will help save battery life and also improve the robustness of Bluetooth links.

Will it work?

It's clear from its website and the various comments its members have made that the Bluetooth SIG expects V3.0 to make its way into a whole host of new devices such as MP3 players, cameras, camcorders, televisions and hard drives. Perhaps the technology will take off when V3.0 products find their way onto shelves in early 2010, but as many of the devices that will have Bluetooth v3.0 + HS are likely to also have Wi-Fi it does beg the question of why a consumer would use a 24Mbps Bluetooth link to transfer a large file when they could use a much faster Wireless-G or N Wi-Fi link instead?

If Bluetooth V3.0 + HS is to be successful it will need to be not just fast and reliable, but also very, very easy to setup and use.

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