One of the little known features of the iPhone 4s was the introduction of a new version of Bluetooth. Bluetooth 4.0 offers feature upgrades on 3.0, with greater speed. A key difference is a change in the integrated chip (IC) and much lower energy consumption. As more products begin to adopt Bluetooth 4.0, wireless users can enjoy added use with more available wireless time.
The way consumers utilize digital devices is undergoing a fundamental shift – mobile phones, laptops and tablets, TVs and even cars now stand to serve as hub devices that capture data from small sensors monitoring everything from footsteps, heart rate activity, blood pressure and sugar levels to house temperature. Hub devices turn that data into useful information at the application layer then may push that information to the cloud. As sensors become useful in almost all devices, Bluetooth technology will provide the connectivity.
According to a recent report from IMS Research, by 2015, Bluetooth version 4.0 with the low energy feature will account for almost half of the ICs shipped worldwide for health and fitness applications, with shipments (both dual-mode and single-mode) estimated to have exceeded 100 million units.
The Bluetooth version 4.0 specification facilitates the rapid building and deployment of new applications, which promises to foster an entire ecosystem of solution providers, from mobile phone manufacturers to key fob manufacturers.
With the adoption of Bluetooth core version 4.0, Low Energy was the hallmark feature. It includes an optimized radio, improved connection handling and an efficient communication protocol. It is mandatory to support the Low Energy feature in all 4.0 devices. Bluetooth products with the classic Bluetooth radio will also include the low energy. These are referred to as dual mode devices while device with only the new Low Energy radio are referred to as single mode devices. Major phone platforms like the iPhone is already utilizing Bluetooth 4.0 enabling it to connect to new Bluetooth sensors and peripherals.
The low energy radio is optimized for very low power consumption enabling devices to run on a coin cell battery. It will also enable devices to run several times longer before changing batteries. Bluetooth hopes this power-saving edge will motivate more devices to adopt Bluetooth 4.0.