Jan 03 2012

The Next Bluetooth Wave: High Speed & Low Energy Technology


Without external network connection, Bluetooth technology defines a uniform structure for a wide range of devices to connect and communicate with each other. Thus, among the wireless transmission technologies, Bluetooth technology is a short-range communications technology that is very convenient and secure. Nowadays, you can find it in billions of devices ranging from mobile phones to desktops or laptops.

However, with the innovations of Bluetooth versions(Bluetooth v2.0/2.1 + EDR, Bluetooth v3.0 + HS to Bluetooth v4.0 + LE), constantly-evolving Bluetooth profiles, and the pervasiveness of multi-mode application, the whole concept of Bluetooth implementation becomes more complicated than ever before and further turns into a challenge for corporations seeking certification. To help you get a clear picture of Bluetooth certification, this article will introduce the latest Bluetooth versions and clarify some commonly confused concepts.

Let’s understand Bluetooth v3.0 + HS, Bluetooth v4.0 + LE, and what’s multi-mode application?

Currently, Bluetooth v2.0/2.1 + EDR are still the most common versions in the market, the recent Bluetooth v3.0 + HS and Bluetooth v4.0 LE are released though. It’s very important to understand each characteristic of Bluetooth v3.0 + HS and Bluetooth v4.0 + LE.

1. Bluetooth v3.0 + HS

The so-called “HS” of Bluetooth v3.0 + HS means “High-Speed”, which makes

the transmission application of Bluetooth extends to larger files, including high resolution images or video/audio data. Thus, Bluetooth v3.0 + HS is often referred to as Bluetooth High-Speed technology. The main characteristics of Bluetooth v3.0 + HS include Generic Alternate MAC/PHY Protocol (AMP), 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL), Unicast Connectionless Data (UCD) and Enhanced Power Control (EPC).

Among all these features, Generic AMP is a major breakthrough of Bluetooth technology. That is, when large amounts of data need to be sent, the high speed alternate 802.11 PAL will be used for data transmission through AMP. In addition, UCD permits small amounts of data to be sent without establishing L2CAP channel. It is intended to lower the reaction time and power consumption while rapid connection or small data transmission is needed. Last, EPC allows devices to enhance the capacity of power control to support multiple modulation modes, so that can optimize the transmission distance.

Bluetooth multi-mode application is beginning to take shape by both Generic AMP and 802.11 PAL. It means that under the premise of preserving the original pairing connection of Bluetooth, the device can still use different wireless technologies upon different functions and demand for transmission. For consumers, they can remain the same operating mode as Classic Bluetooth to experience the multi-mode application without any manual settings for different wireless connections. For instance, data transmission and connection over Wi-Fi, is a typical case of Bluetooth multi-mode application.

How does the Bluetooth multi-mode application begin? In fact, Bluetooth SIG which proposed the concept of integrated wireless communication in 2007 tried to take UWB, NFC, Ultra Low Power, Wi-Fi, and other communication technologies under the Bluetooth technical architecture. That is why as mentioned above, the following revision of Bluetooth v3.0 + HS adds the technological application of Generic AMP and 802.11 PAL.

So far, Bluetooth v3.0 + HS has begun to be widely used in transmitting files, such as the adoption of FTP and OPP; moreover, it increases the transmission speed from 3 Mbps to 54/108 Mbps through 802.11g. Thus, the most compelling characteristic of Bluetooth v3.0 + HS is to achieve faster and smoother experience of transmission. While major chipset companies are speeding up the technology integration with 802.11n, Bluetooth v3.0 + HS will be able to support even higher transmission speed. In addition to file transmitting, Bluetooth SIG also integrates the relevant protocol positively to enter the field of wireless video transmission.


2. Bluetooth v4.0 LE

The so-called “LE” of Bluetooth v4.0 + LE means “Low-Energy”. Bluetooth v4.0 + LE, is like three specifications in one-Classic Bluetooth technology(e.g. Bluetooth 2.1+EDR), Bluetooth low energy technology, and Bluetooth high speed technology -all which can be combined or used separately in different devices according to their functionality(Figure 1). The key feature of Bluetooth v4.0 + LE is Low-energy, which means that it enables a Bluetooth device to operate for months or even years on tiny, coin-cell batteries. That is, Bluetooth v4.0 + LE allows Bluetooth devices in sleep mode while idling, and only initiate the Bluetooth functions while transmitting.

Another significant feature of Bluetooth v4.0 + LE is the so-called Single-Mode and Dual-Mode. In Single-Mode, Bluetooth v4.0 + LE can achieve the purpose of low-energy transmission through simple device searching and point to multi-point data reansmission. And in Dual-mode, Bluetooth v4.0 + LE can co-work with different Bluetooth specifications, such as Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR and Bluetooth v3.0 + HS, and then users can switch the operations of high-speed or low-energy upon ones’ demand. Therefore, the manufactures can adopt the appropriate mode, based on the purpose of device-using more flexible. For example, Single-mode can be applied on some devices which need long time but no sustainable data transmission, and Dual-Mode can be applied on some devices which need to transmit with other different products (such as computer or mobile phone) simultaneously.




Bluetooth v4.0 + LE enables classic and low-energy Bluetooth technology to exist independently, but also coexistence of shared; because of this evolution, the application of Bluetooth v4.0 + LE becomes more diverse. On one hand, lower-energy technology applies on healthcare electronics and fitness equipments; on the other hand, high-speed technology allows data-transmitting more time-saving. For example, one sphygmomanometer with Bluetooth v4.0 + LE can run only low-energy to record the subject’s blood pressure status, and use classic Bluetooth technology to transmit data or images to the database. Different from the past point-to-point connection, Bluetooth v4.0 + LE uses the framework of Topology to allow more devices connecting with each other easily.

As a global standard, Bluetooth technology is in billions of devices worldwide, including virtually every mobile phone, laptop, tablet, new car, and more than 40 million medical devices. The brand-new Bluetooth technologies, such as Bluetooth v3.0 + HS and Bluetooth v4.0 + LE, will cut through the complexity of wireless communications, enabling devices to communicate seamlessly. In the future, Bluetooth technology and devices will bring simplicity to everyday life through their convenience, freedom, and ease of use.