Data transfer rates to jump with Bluetooth 3.0

A standards group on Tuesday approved specifications for a new Bluetooth standard that speeds up wireless data transfers between devices like smart phones and laptops.

The new Bluetooth 3.0 standard boosts wireless data transfers between devices to 24Mbps from 3Mbps, said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the group developing the standard. The Bluetooth 3.0 specification is an update from the Bluetooth 2.1 protocol, which the group adopted in 2007.

Bluetooth wireless technology is commonly used to pair mobile phones with wireless headsets for hands-free talking. It is also used to connect a cell phone to a laptop to synchronize data or transfer multimedia files without using wires. More than 2 billion devices have shipped with Bluetooth built in, according to Bluetooth SIG.

Tuesday's announcement is the first step in adoption of the standard, and devices based on the Bluetooth 3.0 specification could ship later this year or by early next year.

"We might see a handful [of devices] as early as this holiday season, but it usually takes 9 to 12 months post specification adoption to see products on the market," Foley said.

The faster data transfers could lead to Bluetooth's adoption in a number consumer electronics devices beyond just mobile phones.

"We expect Bluetooth 3.0 to make its way into PCs, mobile phones, camcorders, cameras, TVs, digital presenters—devices that consumers use to transfer large data files like those of video, photographs, and even entire music libraries," Foley said.

The standard enables faster data transfers while using less power, giving consumers improved responsiveness and better battery life in mobile devices, Foley said. It also stabilizes connections between devices, ironing out kinks from earlier standards when connections broke after a device like a cell phone was placed in the pocket.

The Bluetooth 3.0 radio is based on Wi-Fi standards, which enables better data throughput while delivers power-saving benefits for mobile devices.

"Although the high-speed radio itself can be more taxing on a battery than the classic Bluetooth radio, the high-speed radio is also able to send data faster and can therefore be in use for a shorter period of time," Foley said.

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