Bluetooth Sig Selects WiMedia’s UWB

The future for wireless communications technology Bluetooth is now tied to high-speed, Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology.

The Bluetooth Special Interest group announced its support of WiMedia’s MB-OFDM (multi-band orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) instead of a competing UWB version, the direct-sequence UWB from the UWB Forum.

Bluetooth is becoming increasingly popular for low power, short distance applications like wireless headsets and wireless keyboards and mice.

Technical specifications for the new, higher speed version of Bluetooth will be sorted out over the next year, while products based on that spec aren’t likely to be available until 2008.

“By then, end users won’t need to know if they are using traditional Bluetooth or UWB, the device will select the appropriate speed,” Jon Rosdahl, vice-president on the WiMedia Board told

In a home network, UWB would be ideal to transmit a movie from one device to another. UWB is capable of speeds ranging from 100 megabits per second to over 2 gigabits per second.

“The selection of the WiMedia Alliance by the Bluetooth SIG helps solidify the WiMedia Alliance as the leading UWB organization,” said Fiona Thomson, market research analyst, IMS Research in a statement.

“IMS Research believes that while other UWB solutions will ship, the support behind the WiMedia Alliance will add appeal to equipment manufacturers, resulting in the success of WiMedia UWB.”

With dozens of supporting companies for each side, the WiMedia Alliance includes the backing of Intel. UWB Forum support includes chip competitor Freescale Semiconductor, a spin-off of Motorola.

“They [UWB Forum] have technology that will be good for certain niche solutions but feel we have broader appeal and a better fit with Bluetooth,” said WiMedia’s Rosdahl.

Last spring Microsoft joined the WiMedia Alliance and endorsed its efforts, though it did not offer exclusive support.

The Bluetooth SIG and WiMedia Alliance say they will work jointly to help UWB achieve global regulatory acceptance.

In response to concerns voiced by regulatory bodies in Europe and Asia, both parties have agreed to develop a high-speed, high-data rate Bluetooth solution that utilizes the unlicensed radio spectrum above 6 GHz.

The Bluetooth SIG gave a demonstration of Bluetooth running over UWB radios Tuesday in Seattle.

The group said the demo utilized Open Interface North America’s BLUEtusk technology to stream high definition video streaming using the Bluetooth Video Distribution Profile (VDP) over UWB radios from Alereon and the Bluetooth Object Push Profile (OPP) over standard Bluetooth Version 2.0.

“Bluetooth technology has two core strengths that are missing in other short range radio standards: specifications for application interoperability in the form of Bluetooth profiles, and the device and service discovery functions needed for secure, easy-to-use, ad-hoc networking,” said Greg Burns, CTO of Open Interface.

“Combining these core strengths with the high bandwidth of UWB radios makes applications such as HD video streaming possible and existing Bluetooth applications such as file and image transfer, printing, and synchronization work better.”

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