Speed the key to next-gen Bluetooth

The next version of Bluetooth technology should mean lower power consumption, higher transfer speeds and wireless syncing of music and video libraries between computers and portable devices.

The changes are part of Bluetooth 3.0, which effectively became official today when the industry’s Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) agreed to adopt the standard. It’s the last bureaucratic measure before manufacturers can release compatible devices, expected to be on sale within a year.

The big difference is that Bluetooth 3.0 uses the 802.11 radio protocol: put simply, it can piggyback onto Wi-fi signals and offer speeds of up to 24Mbps, around eight times that available on existing Bluetooth devices.

Bluetooth SIG chief Michael Foley noted “Like Ricky Bobby in ‘Talladega Nights,’ the latest version was ‘Born to go fast,’” an odd comparison presumably designed to allow websites to illustrate stories with something other than a picture of a cellphone headset.

The group also notes the new standards include wireless syncing, claiming “Transferring an entire music library, a complete DVD, a vacation’s worth of photos, all within seconds at the touch of a button and wirelessly will now be possible.”

The higher speeds should also mean a longer battery life in portable devices. Though sending data over the Wi-fi link uses more power than Bluetooth during transfer, this will usually be outweighed by transfers taking less time.

The system won’t work on most existing Bluetooth devices, though it’s possible some laptops which currently have both Bluetooth and Wi-fi will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

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