Bluetooth gets UWB breakthrough

Bluetooth gets UWB breakthrough

High-speed Bluetooth devices could be shipping as early as 2007

High-speed Bluetooth devices using ultra-wideband (UWB) technology could ship as soon as next year, following the decision by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) to back the UWB standard from the WiMedia Alliance.

Bluetooth currently operates at a maximum speed of 2.1Mbit/s, which is sufficient for a wireless link between a headset and mobile phone. But as the standard moves into devices such as digital cameras and storage hardware, higher speeds are desirable.

The Bluetooth SIG announced it has selected the MultiBand OFDM version of UWB from the WiMedia Alliance over rival technology from the UWB Forum. Members of the WiMedia Alliance include Intel, Microsoft, HP and Nokia.

"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 customers," said Michael Foley of the Bluetooth SIG.

The WiMedia UWB technology supports data transfer speeds up to 480Mbit/s and was developed for the proposed Wireless USB standard. In high-speed Bluetooth devices, UWB will complement the existing Bluetooth radio and will only be fired up when a large volume of data needs to be transferred.

The first Bluetooth chips with UWB are expected in the second quarter of 2007. Bluetooth chipmaker CSR has already announced it is working on UWB chips using the WiMedia technology.