Bluetooth Special Interest Group Adopts Low Energy Wireless Technology

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced the adoption of Bluetooth® low energy wireless technology, which is the hallmark feature of the Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0. As an enhancement to the specification, Bluetooth low energy technology opens entirely new markets for devices requiring low cost and low power wireless connectivity with this evolution in Bluetooth wireless technology that will enable a plethora of new applications – some not even possible or imagined today. Many markets such as healthcare, sports and fitness, security, and home entertainment will be enhanced with the availability of small coin-cell battery powered wireless products and sensors now enabled by Bluetooth wireless technology.

“With today’s announcement the race is on for product designers to be the first to market,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director, Bluetooth SIG. “Bluetooth low energy modules for all sorts of new products may now be qualified – this is an important step towards our goal of enabling new markets with Bluetooth wireless technology. For example, the Continua Health Alliance has already selected Bluetooth low energy as a transport for the next version of its guidelines.”

“Today’s news from the Bluetooth SIG is an exciting step forward for technology in mobile health and wellness devices,” said Rick Cnossen, president and board chair, Continua Health Alliance. “Our selection of Bluetooth low energy for the Continua Version Two Design Guidelines extends exciting new capabilities to manufacturers and consumers alike, as well as enabling additional use cases within the Continua ecosystem.”

“Nokia has been committed to this ultra low power wireless technology since its Wibree technology development. Now we are happy to see the adoption of the Bluetooth low energy specification, which will open up new market opportunities and space to innovate for the industry. The wide manufacturer base behind Bluetooth low energy technology and the combined industry effort will result in exciting new user experiences in the mobile space,” said Markku Verkama, Director, Devices R&D Nokia.

Bluetooth low energy wireless technology, the hallmark feature of the V4.0 Bluetooth Core Specification, features:

  • Ultra-low peak, average and idle mode power consumption
  • Ability to run for years on standard coin-cell batteries
  • Low cost
  • Multi-vendor interoperability
  • Enhanced range

This enhancement to the Bluetooth Core Specification allows two types of implementation, dual-mode and single-mode. In a dual-mode implementation, Bluetooth low energy functionality is integrated into an existing classic Bluetooth controller. The resulting architecture shares much of classic Bluetooth technology’s existing radio and functionality resulting in a minimal cost increase compared to classic Bluetooth technology. Additionally, manufacturers can use current classic Bluetooth (Bluetooth V2.1 + EDR or Bluetooth V3.0 + HS) chips with the new low energy stack, enhancing the development of classic Bluetooth devices with new capabilities.

Single-mode chips, which will enable highly integrated and compact devices, will feature a lightweight Link Layer providing ultra-low power idle mode operation, simple device discovery, and reliable point-to-multipoint data transfer with advanced power-save and secure encrypted connections at the lowest possible cost. The Link Layer in these controllers will enable Internet connected sensors to schedule Bluetooth low energy traffic between Bluetooth transmissions.

Technical Details

  • Data Transfers – Bluetooth low energy supports very short data packets (8 octet minimum up to 27 octets maximum) that are transferred at 1 Mbps. All connections use advanced sniff-subrating to achieve ultra low duty cycles.
  • Frequency Hopping – Bluetooth low energy uses the adaptive frequency hopping common to all versions of Bluetooth technology to minimize interference from other technologies in the 2.4 GHz ISM Band. Efficient multi-path benefits increase the link budgets and range.
  • Host Control – Bluetooth low energy places a significant amount of intelligence in the controller, which allows the host to sleep for longer periods of time and be woken up by the controller only when the host needs to perform some action. This allows for the greatest current savings since the host is assumed to consume more power than the controller.
  • Latency – Bluetooth low energy can support connection setup and data transfer as low as 3ms, allowing an application to form a connection and then transfer authenticated data in few milliseconds for a short communication burst before quickly tearing down the connection.
  • Range – Increased modulation index provides a possible range for Bluetooth low energy of over 100 meters.
  • Robustness – Bluetooth low energy uses a strong 24 bit CRC on all packets ensuring the maximum robustness against interference.
  • Strong Security – Full AES-128 encryption using CCM to provide strong encryption and authentication of data packets.
  • Topology – Bluetooth low energy uses a 32 bit access address on every packet for each slave, allowing billions of devices to be connected. The technology is optimized for one-to-one connections while allowing one-to-many connections using a star topology. With the use of quick connections and disconnections, data can move in a mesh-like topology without the complexities of maintaining a mesh network.

Bluetooth Technology in Telehealth Solutions
Today’s announcement also advances the requirements of the Bluetooth SIG’s agreement with Continua Health Alliance, the industry coalition of leading health care and technology companies charged with establishing a system of interoperable personal telehealth solutions. Continua has voted to include the Bluetooth low energy wireless technology specification, Bluetooth low energy, in Version Two of its Continua Health Alliance Design Guidelines. The selection of Bluetooth low energy extends the current Continua standard for the Bluetooth Health Device Profile, the only wireless technology specification included in Continua’s Version One Design Guidelines.

About Bluetooth® Wireless Technology
Bluetooth wireless technology is the global short-range wireless standard for personal connectivity of a broad range of electronic devices. The technology continues to evolve, building on its inherent strengths – small-form factor radio, low power, low cost, built-in security, robustness, ease-of-use, and ad hoc networking abilities. This evolution now provides manufacturers and consumers with three options for connecting wirelessly – classic Bluetooth technology for use in a wide range of consumer electronics; Bluetooth high speed technology for the transfer of video, music and photos between phones, cameras, camcorders, PCs and TVs; and Bluetooth low energy for low power sensor devices and new web services within the healthcare, fitness, security, home entertainment, automotive and automation industries. More than eight new Bluetooth enabled products are qualified every working day and more than 19 million Bluetooth units are shipping per week. There are nearly three billion Bluetooth devices in the marketplace and that number climbs daily, making it the only proven wireless choice for developers, product manufacturers, and consumers worldwide.

About Bluetooth low energy Wireless Technology
Bluetooth low energy is a new low energy enhancement to the Bluetooth wireless technology Core Specification that paves the way to a vast new market for watches, remote controls, and healthcare and sports sensors. It has the potential to communicate with the hundreds of millions of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones, PCs and PDAs that are shipped each year. Consuming minimal power, it offers long-lasting connectivity, dramatically extending the range of potential applications and opening the door to brand new web services. Bluetooth low energy features ultra-low peak, average and idle mode power consumption; ultra-low cost plus small size for accessories and human interface devices (HIDs); minimal cost and size addition to handsets and PCs; global, intuitive and secure multi-vendor interoperability.

About the Bluetooth SIG
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), comprised of leaders in the telecommunications, computing, consumer electronics, automotive and network industries, is driving development of Bluetooth wireless technology and bringing it to market. The Bluetooth SIG includes Promoter member companies Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Toshiba, along with over 12,000 Associate and Adopter member companies. The Bluetooth SIG, Inc. headquarters are located in Bellevue, Washington, U.S.A.

The Bluetooth word mark and logo are registered trademarks and are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc.