A new version of the cable-replacement protocol Bluetooth has been accepted, just as the standard passes an important milestone in adoption. -- a million units shipping per week.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has approved version 1.2 of the Bluetooth Core Specification Version 1.2, which includes some improvements, specifically the inclusion of a better frequency-hopping system, and improved voice quality.

Adaptive frequency hopping (AFH) lets Bluetooth systems adjust the patterns they follow when hopping from one frequency to another on the fly to fit in with other devices in the area -- reducing the risk of interference with Wi-Fi and other 2.4GHz systems. Other improvements include better voice quality and faster link set-up, both of which will be a boon in Bluetooth's main application area so far, in wireless headsets.

The new version is compatible with Bluetooth 1.1 (the most widely used version of the standard), and should start to appear in products early in 2004.

Meanwhile, in the third quarter of this year, a million units were shipped each week, according to IMS Research, which tracks Bluetooth semiconductor shipments.

Of course, shipments isn't the same as usage, as anyone with an IR port on their laptop knows. However, the SIG believes that faster set-up will move the technology on to its goal of being in-use within five minutes of turning on a Bluetooth enabled device.