The Bluetooth SIG today announced its selection of the WiMedia Alliance multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (MB-OFDM) version of ultra-wideband (UWB) for integration with current Bluetooth wireless technology.
This new version of Bluetooth technology is expected to meet the high-speed demands of synchronizing and transferring large amounts of data as well as enabling high quality video and audio applications for portable devices, multi-media projectors and television sets.
The SIG had originally favored neither the MBOA protocol used by the Intel-led WiMedia standard nor the incompatible DS-UWB protocol championed the UWB Forum. But a poll of the SIG members had pushed the organization to favor WiMedia.
Stated Michael Foley, Executive Director, Bluetooth SIG said: "As a member-driven organization, it is the Bluetooth SIG's responsibility to ensure it is attentive to its members' needs. Having considered the UWB technology options, the decision ultimately came down to what our members want, which is to leverage their current investments in both UWB and Bluetooth technologies and meet the high-speed demands of their customers. By working closely with the WiMedia Alliance to create the next version of Bluetooth technology, we will enable our members to do just that."
It is critical that the UWB technology be compatible with Bluetooth radios and maintain low power, low cost, ad-hoc networking, built-in security features, and ability to integrate into mobile devices. Backwards compatibility with the over 500 million Bluetooth devices currently on the market is also an important consideration.
One of the key components to the agreement between the Bluetooth SIG and the WiMedia Alliance will help UWB achieve global regulatory acceptance. Both parties have agreed to develop a high speed, high data rate Bluetooth solution that utilizes the unlicensed radio spectrum above 6 GHz. This move answers concerns voiced by regulatory bodies in both Europe and Asia.
Michael Foley also expects that the optimal range for UWB-based Bluetooth will be similar to the existing Bluetooth technology.
"About 10 meters is what we're targeting," Foley said. "We think for many of the applications the sweet spot is around 100Mgbits/p/s at the 10 meter range."
The Bluetooth SIG Core Specification Working Group Charter and UWB Feature Requirements Document (FRD) have been approved by the Bluetooth SIG Board of Directors, signaling that work may commence. Both groups will immediately begin work together on the specification draft within the Bluetooth SIG Core Specification Working Group. The Bluetooth SIG estimates this process to last approximately one year, with the first Bluetooth technology/UWB solution chip sets available for prototyping in Q2 2007.