Wibree, Bluetooth Groups Merge

They were potential rivals, but now the two wireless networking specs are friends, and anytime networking on personal networks could be all the better for it.

The Wibree wireless specification group said today it would join up with a Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) in order to become a part of the Bluetooth spec as an ultra-low-power technology.

Wibree, developed by Nokia, is often touted as a radio technology with the potential to connect a broader spectrum of devices including watches, toys and sports sensors.

Bluetooth , while arguably a more widely known networking specification, is also known for being a power-hungry standard that can quickly suck the life out of batteries of gadgets that deploy it.

As internetnews.com previously reported, Nokia was promoting Wibree more as a complementary wireless technology than a replacement for Bluetooth. But its performance is similar, with a data rate of 1 megabit per second (Mbps) in short range (0 to 10 meters).

They decided that they’re better together than they are apart. For example, both groups explained that because Wibree addresses devices with very low battery capacity and can be easily integrated with Bluetooth technology, the Wibree spec will round out Bluetooth technology’s wireless Personal Area Networking (PAN) offering and strengthen the technology’s ability to provide wireless connectivity for smaller devices.

The Bluetooth SIG said it recognized the potential of Wibree to enhance current Bluetooth use cases around the mobile phone and PC by bringing very low-power, sensor type devices into the fold. With the two groups merging their strengths, look for the ultra-low-power extension to enable watches and toys, as well as sports, wellness, health care and entertainment devices to be added to one’s personal area network.

“By including or referencing other wireless technologies like ultra wideband for high speed applications, near-field communication (NFC) for association and now Wibree for ultra-low-power applications under the well-established Bluetooth profiles, we are opening up a host of new applications and functionality while keeping the user experience consistent,” said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, in a statement.

“Our members have been asking for an ultra-low-power Bluetooth solution. With Nokia’s innovative development and contribution to the Bluetooth specification with Wibree, we will be able to deliver this in approximately one year.”

The groups said manufacturers such as Broadcom, Casio, CSR, Epson, ItoM, Logitech, Nordic Semiconductor, ST Microelectronics, Suunto, Taiyo Yuden and Texas Instruments have contributed to the interoperability specification, profiles and use case definition of Wibree in their respective areas of expertise and will continue this work in the Bluetooth SIG working groups.

Also, look for several new companies, including device, watch and access systems manufacturers, to join the finalization of the specification.

Once that happens, the technology will be made broadly available to the industry via the Bluetooth SIG.

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