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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Will Bluetooth ULP deliver?

Yesterday, while I was writing this blog, I wanted to confirm some facts from Bluetooth website. Only I found astonishingly that Bluetooth ULP changed name to "Low Energy". I was astonished because:

1. Though ULP is not firstly created by Bluetooth, but some other proprietary solutions, it is now well owned by Bluetooth.
2. The term "ultra" has been taken out . What does this imply? Does this mean that Bluetooth LE can not commit the low current consumption not even close to its competitors?

Now back to my blog. I will, the last time, still call the technology Bluetooth ULP.

I always doubt if Bluetooth ULP or Wibree can deliver its promises without compromises, since it is announced. The fundamental reason, there is nothing free. You have to pay the price for ........... being compatible with classic Bluetooth. The situation could be even harsh for ULP, because ULP not only means ultra-low-power, but also implies low cost, small memory size, easy to implement and etc. The kept delayed schedule of Bluetooth ULP specification just reflects it is not an easy task to achieve them all.

Back to last Oct, in a Bluetooth conference in London, the SIG group members were arguing publicly if Bluetooth ULP should be focused on providing ultra low power wireless connection or should also consider functions like scatter net.

The answer I collected recently shows that Bluetooth ULP is going to support scatter net. The single mode will be able to work as both master and slave. This means that the watch can operate with sensors without the existence of a phone. This was not the case back to last year, where the watch can not talk to sensors directly but via the phone which is the master. It is also affirmed that the star network can hold much more nodes only limited by the hardware. I heard up to 64 nodes, but I am not sure.

I believe all the above is actually driven by those SIG members who are currently using proprietary solutions like ANT, which can deliver these functions today.

Further more, from the presentation that Robin Heydon of CSR gave in Continua Health Alliance summit, Bluetooth ULP supports industrial level security and privacy and many other attractive features without additional cost.

No doubt, if everything becomes true, Bluetooth ULP will win the competition and unite the fragmented market. But with everything about Bluetooth ULP not even publicly on paper, we have tons of reason to doubt.

There is no secrete to be ultra-low-power,
1. you turn on the radio as less as possible
2. you do things as fast as you can when you are on
3. you do things that are only necessary

If you do everything, you are nothing in terms of ultra-low-power.

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