Last year, a Nokia wireless technology called WiBree was adopted as a low-power Bluetooth option. Now it's been shown in action.
At a health technology conference in Luxembourg, wireless chip-maker CSR showed an ultra-low-power (ULP) Bluetooth connection running at one tenth the power demand of regular Bluetooth. combined with other savings, the technology can last for ten years on a button cell battery, says CSR's Robin Heydon.
ULP Bluetooth, formerly known as Wibree, was adopted by the Bluetooth SIG last years, as an alternative transport last year, to be used in applications that need different features - in this case low-power communications for small amounts of data.
Bluetooth now has two alternative transports, the other being Wi-Fi for fast transfers. Theoretically, there's another fast one, using ultra-wideband (UWB) which, we keep being told UWB will be along any minute. No doubt it will come, but let's say we're not holding our breath. Nor is the Bluetooth SIG - that's why there's a Wi-Fi alternative.
ULP Bluetooth backers say it could wipe out ZigBee, a low power wireless network designed for sensor networks and home automation: "ULP Bluetooth is lower power, lower cost and more robust than Zigbee," said Robin Heydon, standards architect at CSR. It's also implementable in all mobile phones at - the backers claim - virtually no extra cost, so why would you use anything else?
The ZigBee camp disagrees of course: "It's not a networking technology. It supports no more than eight devices, " says Bob Heile, chair of the ZigBee Alliance.