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Bluetooth 4.0 To Reach Devices In Fourth Quarter 103

angry tapir writes "The Bluetooth 4.0 wireless specification could start to appear in devices such as headsets, smartphones and PCs by the fourth quarter, said the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. The new specification will be able to be used in lower-power devices than previous versions of the technology, including watches, pedometers, smart meters and other gadgets that run on coin-cell batteries."
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Bluetooth 4.0 To Reach Devices In Fourth Quarter

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not Pedometers! Won't somebody think of the children??

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Quite the opposite: You want to have as many meters as possible between a child and a pedo.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by aylons ( 924093 )
      Just the opposite: every children should carry a pedometer. Then, when an individual with a high pedo degree approaches, it beeps on alert.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by davester666 ( 731373 )

        If such a device could be made, then children would make a game out of getting it to beep the loudest...

  • by Darth Sdlavrot ( 1614139 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:05AM (#31356952)

    My brand new TV and Blueray player still use IR remotes -- essentially the same tech as was used in the TV and VCR I bought 25 years ago - and it still sucks hind tit.

    We've had BT for years now -- it's time for manufacturers to join the 21st century.

    • by Fusen ( 841730 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:11AM (#31356992)
      Even with BT 4.0, I'd love to see a power usage comparison, I'm sure IR would easily win.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        seriously, I can watch the battery on my cellphone die when the bluetooth is on.
      • by ircmaxell ( 1117387 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:52AM (#31357356) Homepage
        Well, what would be cool is if the spec allowed for dynamically powered devices. So the device would constantly modulate the power output to keep it just high enough to maintain connection. So if the default output is 2.5 mW (the actual output for a class 2 device), it could scale that back to save on power. So if the connected device is close enough, it could run at 0.25 mW as long as the connection is maintained. This would only work well if the modulation circuit was fast enough (otherwise if you increased the power needed faster than it could respond it would simply lose connection).

        There are 2 main reasons (as far as I can see) that bluetooth will always use more power than IR. First, is that turning electrical impulses to IR is a lot more efficient (using a LED) than turning electrical impulses into a EMF via an antenna (2.4 ghz has a wavelength of 12.5 cm. So the antenna needs to be either a 1/4 wavelength or a folded design to fit in a portable device). Second, is that unlike IR, bluetooth has frequency hopping built right in. So bluetooth has to have an extra layer of active processing to watch for interference on a channel, and jump to another one (this happens at around 1.6khz)... IR takes no measures against interference. Get someone with a common TV remote (assuming same frequency band) and they can disrupt your IR communication. So the power usage is definitely a tradeoff...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          You can't compete with IR if you need a constant radio link. The beauty of IR is that when no button is being pressed there is no need to transmit or receive anything so it can power down to using a few micro-amps.

          Bluetooth has to maintain a connection between the devices so you are never going to get years out of a single set of batteries like you can with IR.

          • I dont know about that, I have the Bluetooth BD remote for the PS3, and I tend to change the batteries every 6 months to one year. (so far 2 times in 2 years). The controllers dont last as long, granted, but the remote with its twin AA batteries does seem to last quite a bit.

            • by anss123 ( 985305 )
              I dare say that's pretty frequent for a remote.
              • IT is frequent, true. But not as bad as one may think for a bluetooth device. Remember it wasnt that far back that Bluetooth devices only lasted one month.

                Changing batteries every 1 year is do-able, and considering the benifits (no need for line of sight, etc) i can accept it.

                • by anss123 ( 985305 )
                  Every year is certainly do-able. Still, my last remote's first batteries were thrown out with the TV.

                  Similarly my RF ball mouse have held the same batteries for ~4 years and my RF keyboard is going 2 - while my Bluetooth mouse (the VT470 is an excellent mouse BTW) have had several battery changes in the last year.
          • Bluetooth doesn't need to maintain a constant connection for one-way communication... Since it's only one way, you can "sleep" the transmitter on the remote, and only wake it up and pair it when a button is pressed (and for say 30 seconds afterward). It would add a slight lag to the initial key press, but my guess would be if designed right it would be quite quick (potentially 1/4 of a second or less)...
          • by svirre ( 39068 )

            Within bluetooth space, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) might see some use in remote controls. This protocol variant have a facility to keep end nodes silent except when they are used.

            However RF4CE (Now zigbee rf4ce, or zigbee for consumer electronics), a standard built on top of IEEE 802.15.4 currently seems to have a lot more traction in becoming the standard that replaces IR remotes.

            Don't worry too much about the energy cost in listen-before-talk or channel hopping. This only happes whenever the remote sends

        • by Slayer ( 6656 )

          The power consumption of such a device has little to do with the output power as long as RF output power is in the small mW range. Things like receiver, oscillators and frequency hopping logic require so much power all the time that it almost doesn't matter whether the module transmits at all.

          That's the huge advantage of IR: you put all the brains into the receiver (which is powered from a wall outlet) and can keep the transmitter extremely simple and running only when a button is pressed (as AmiMoJo alread

        • by Alef ( 605149 )
          You forgot one huge fundamental difference between the two: IR remotes emit photons in a narrow cone directed towards the device, whereas a Bluetooth transmitter sends its energy in every direction, wasting most of it. This alone makes up for a couple of orders of magnitude in energy.
      • It might not be as big a difference as you think. A pair of cheap AAA batteries last about a year of modest use in my portable bluetooth keyboard. It gets a lot more button presses in a year than a typical remote control. The problem is that it takes about two seconds to associate with the computer. That's fine for a keyboard, because you connect, type a lot, and then disconnect. It's not great for a remote control where you often just want to send one button press and then go back into the low power m
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by baka_toroi ( 1194359 )
      I once posted about that (Not in Slashdot) and someone told me it wouldn't be feasible, because of the time it takes to do the pairing and because you'd have to have a constant link between the devices, even if the TV is off (because you wouldn't be able to turn it on). Please, someone with more knowledge, enlighten us.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 )

        As the following post to yours points out. PS3 controllers are Bluetooth enabled.

        That being said, I know if my PS3 is not actually off when I press the PS button on the controller to turn it on. It goes into standby. Of course my TV goes into a standby mode too, so in theory I could have a similar setup for a TV remote.

        • But also note how if you don't touch a button on the PS3 controller for a few minutes, it shuts off and you have to wait for it to power back up and pair again. That's fine given how games work, but a TV remote is routinely left alone, but expected to work instantly when you want to change channels. Also, compare how often you have to recharge your PS3 controller to how often you have to charge/change batteries in your TV remote. Bluetooth is nice, but it sucks power. That's a lot of the reason for the 4.0

          • I agree. I would honestly be very annoyed if I had to wait 5-10 seconds for my remote to sync-up with my TV every time I put it down while I watched a show.

            The plus to this situation could be that TVs could come with a USB port/holder for the remote. When not in use the remote could be dropped into the pocket for charging. My wife might not lose the remote so often if it had to be put back in the holder to charge it.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I once posted about that (Not in Slashdot) and someone told me it wouldn't be feasible, because of the time it takes to do the pairing and because you'd have to have a constant link between the devices, even if the TV is off (because you wouldn't be able to turn it on). Please, someone with more knowledge, enlighten us.

        The PS3 does use Bluetooth for its remote control, and it's a point of contention among a lot of people. It absolutely has its pluses, but it does have some minuses, too. For instance, it
        • For simple remote control use, encryption is arguably overkill(at least until sinister antenna-studded Neilson vans start prowling around); but signing (or, at very least, a unique serial number or MAC address or something for the remote that your devices can associate with) isn't. Since RF propagates much better than IR through lots of common real-world obstacles, there is a considerable risk of one person's TV picking up somebody else's remote control commands, which could get annoying real fast. I've act
      • by aug24 ( 38229 )

        I turn my BT headset on and off and it pairs with the phone, and I turn my phone on and off and it pairs with the headset.

        If you suspend the TV, then the IR receiver keeps power. BT would be just the same. If you turn it off properly (like unplugging it) then nothing will turn it on again.

        Logically, BT == IR.

        Plus, I'd be able to find the fucking thing with that little blue light ;-)


        • How long does the battery last on your BT headset? Or your phone? Would you be ok with recharging your remote daily, otherwise it just wouldn't work? I dunno about you, but I change batteries in my remote about once every 6 months, and I have a nice Logitech Harmony (which lights up blue if it feels vibration and has sat still for a while, to your finding comment).

          • by aug24 ( 38229 )

            But that's a completely apples/oranges comparison.

            How long does the battery last on the remote if you keep transmitting for an hour constantly (cos that's what a headset does).

            The remote should only be using power when transmitting. The rest of the time the state can be kept in non-volatile memory.

            No battery issue here.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cpicon92 ( 1157705 )

        That's easy to solve:
        Use IR to turn on the TV, have the TV and remote couple after they both turn on. This way you'd only have to point the remote at the TV to turn it on.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ircmaxell ( 1117387 )
          Or even easier. Have a small circuit in the TV that listens to bluetooth frequencies without actually decrypting it. When it detects an active signal, then have it power the full bluetooth module on for a few seconds. It powers on and tries to pair with the device. If it can pair, then it goes into "control" mode (with something like a 30 second timeout). If it can't, it goes back to sleep. Then, on the remote, you only need to enable bluetooth once you press a button. So when you press the power but
          • Doesn't bluetooth work on 2.4ghz with 802.11b/g? Love your idea, but I think it dies if there is a wireless network around (please correct me if I'm wrong!)
            • I have a 802.11g network, and a Bluetooth headset. The BT works fine.

              • I was referring to parent's idea that you have the TV listen on Bluetooth's spectrum (which it shared with 802.11b/g and key up the BT chipset when activity is detected on the 2.4ghz spectrum.
        • by svirre ( 39068 )

          A TV can just run a RF module constantly, it only draws 10-40mA. If you want a bit more agressive power saving, you can duty cycle the RF module, by listen a few times pr. second. This way you can bring average current consumed while listening for RF commands down into 5uA on average

          • Considering this thing is constantly plugged into the wall anyway, does it really make such a big deal how much power it draws?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      This is why I use my PS3 for media. Then I can cuddle up in my sleepingbag and still have full control from within toasty goodness.
    • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:33AM (#31357174) Journal

      What's so bad about IR? I mean, except for the fact that most companies make remote controls which have to be held in a very narrow angle towards the device. But that's not a problem of IR per se; my first TV had an IR remote control where I wouldn't even have to point it vaguely in the direction of the TV.

      • What's so bad about IR?

        Sounds like you need an annoying dog that insists on standing in front of the electronics rack at the precise moment that you're trying to stop that TiVo fast-forward. :)

      • by Threni ( 635302 )

        IR works. Bluetooth...well, it needs support. You'd need to pair the device(s) and the TV, to ensure you don't affect other people's TV/devices (ie your neighbours). It needs more power. There are licenses to pay for. There'd be issues with the version of bluetooth, the stack used etc.

        And after all that, you'd just have a remote control with which you can change channels, which you already have. So there's absolutely no point in doing it.

      • by svirre ( 39068 )

        A two way RF remote can make sure that every key press is registered, istead of the push-button-until-tv-reacts method we use with IR remotes.

      • My old Denon (AVR-1700) amplifier’s remote allows me to walk into an adjacent room (door open), point it to another direction, and still have it working. It’s because it contains 3 bright IR LEDs.

        Interestingly, right now, I still use the same batteries. After a whopping 11 years! of course it doesn’t go as far anymore (now about 3 meters with a small angle). But hey, that’s still very impressive.

        I wonder if there is some effect that keeps the batteries going. As I think they are long

    • by theJML ( 911853 )

      The PS3 remote is BT, and I love it. and it's lasted quite a while on it's 2 batteries. I'm sure it'll probably die slightly before a normal IR remote, but it could easily be made to use a rechargeable cradle and that'd solve that issue.

    • I don't know why everyone in here is hating on IR. It really is superior technology for remote controls:

      • no pairing
      • ultra low power consumption
      • instant response

      Seriously, what advantage could bluetooth have? If you're using a remote, you're already in line of sight of the device anyway

      • Your answer is answered by the Line of sight (think laser or flashlight) versus omni-directional wave (think home WiFI.) A remote can't power your TV from behind, can it?

        I replaced my battery this week... line of sight only appears to be omnidirectional because with strong enough batteries, the signal 'leaks' even if you aren't pointing in a straight line. When batteries went low, our remote stopped being able to power the TV unless a very strict angle of incidence was kept. My old relatives doesn't underst

        • Your answer is answered by the Line of sight (think laser or flashlight) versus omni-directional wave (think home WiFI.) A remote can't power your TV from behind, can it?

          That's what everyone is saying, but (really), you don't need to control your TV if you can't see it. Of course you can't power on your TV from behind it, but that's silly.

          If you pretend that having to be able to see your TV to control it is some kind of annoyance, I don't know what to tell you

      • by svirre ( 39068 )

        Bluetooth as it is is not well suited. Bluetooth low energy or RF4CE is very well suited to replace IR. It uses less energy (IR diodes suck down quite a bit of juice), can do two way communication so it permits guaranteed response of button presses, kan have the TV page the remote, can display information on the remote etc.

    • IR works if it has line of sight. BT works if it feels like it.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:07AM (#31356962) Homepage

    From science fiction to science fact! While the time difference is much less significant than the time difference indicated in the movie "Frequency", performing a radio frequency transaction to devices in the fourth quarter while we are in the first quarter is quite impressive. It should be enough to collect useful information such as lottery numbers.

  • users will notice only nominal battery-life improvements for long-range or continuous data communication

    No power saving for mice unfortunately.

    I'm not sure why blue tooth mice are not more popular, with most companies going with their own propitiatory, battery guzzling shit [] for wireless. Logitech, that means you!

    • While the little tiny RF dongles are indeed proprietary(all of them suck and a special hell is reserved for the companies that don't even make them compatible between different lines of their own products), they are typically on par with, or even better than, bluetooth in terms of power consumption.
    • by Whalou ( 721698 )
      I have the Logitech MX 5500 keyboard and mouse and they use Bluetooth.

      No need to use the provided USB Bluetooth adapter if your computer (or PS3 in my case) supports Bluetooth already.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      To be fair, having wireless keyboards and mice that show up to the host system as plain old USB HID-compliant devices means there's generally one less thing to have to troubleshoot in case there are problems. Not to mention that you can use them to access the BIOS -- something you can't do with Bluetooth because the Bluetooth stack/driver haven't been loaded yet.
      • I have an older computer, with an older bluetooth KB/mouse set, and I can access anything I need to access in the BIOS or POST screens. My set came with a BT dongle, so I don't know if that's necessary or if it would work the same with integrated BT.

        In fact, just last week my computer went a little crazy and I couldn't connect with either my keyboard or mouse. I rolled back my machine to an earlier state from a backup with no problems. So I couldn't do anything in the OS, but up until it loaded, it was fine

      • Actually a lot of BT keyboard and mouse sets behave as a normal USB HID compliant device when used with the provided dongle. My Microsoft Wireless 7000 KB + Mouse's dongle has a HID bridge that is on by default with a simple bluetooth stack implemented on the dongle, that only works with the mouse/keyboard. It is only when I install the drivers AND choose to install the BT stack that it switches to full BT mode (It is possible to install the Intellipoint software without enabling the bluetooth stack to save

    • Bluetooth headsets, and to a lesser extent keyboards and mice, all suffer from noticeable lag. This makes BT devices worthless for gaming and video, and damn annoying for everything else.

      A low-lag Bluetooth is needed before it will replace USB.

      • RF keyboards and mice have lag too. And I suspect the lag is not intrinsic in BT, since it seems to work just fine in for the PS3 and Wii

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:08AM (#31356980)


    Pedometers! Think of the children! Don't let these meters anywhere near our kids

    And don't sciken me with your "Bluetooth Special Interest Group", I don't want to know about your special interests.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      FAIL, this devices do not pose any risk for the children. On the contrary, they are used for measuring how pedophile a person is, wirelessly, and can be used to protect children from the otherwise unnoticeable offenders, either human or running bear.
    • by neiras ( 723124 )

      Pedometers! Think of the children! Don't let these meters anywhere near our kids.

      Pedobear [] probably used one during his Olympic appearance.

      Poor Quatchi, Miga, and Sumi.

  • ....but still USB3 is still nowhere in sight...
  • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily&gmail,com> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:09AM (#31356990)

    Of course, the act of including Bluetooth transforms them from "run years on a single battery" to "run from outlet to outlet".

  • So (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gadzook33 ( 740455 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:19AM (#31357060)
    Does this mean we'll finally get a decent pair of bluetooth headphones?
  • same ol' bt audio (Score:4, Informative)

    by distantbody ( 852269 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:41AM (#31357240) Journal
    They need to improve the music streaming. Currently its decompress the audio > real time lossy recompression with worse codec > transmit and then finally decompress. It's less than ideal for audio quality and battery life. I think data transmission over te skin would be good for the task. My ears get warm and tender after 10 minutes from using a bt headset anyway, maybe I'm just allergic to it...
    • Currently its decompress the audio > real time lossy recompression with worse codec > transmit and then finally decompress.
      I worked at a company that developed a very nice lossless Bluetooth codec. The tech is out there to do better, it is just a question of adoption and sales.

    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      Agreed that bt audio doesn't measure up. The market in wireless headphones is really being hampered by the lack of audio quality.

      That and range is an issue. Bt should be able to cover a 1-bedroom apartment so you can at least go to the bathroom or grab a snack without interruptions. It wouldn't even need much of a power boost, maybe 10-15%.

  • I must be getting old. I completely missed Bluetooth 3.0!
  • But will it reach devices in the French Quarter? This lack of coverage in New Orleans is troubling!

  • Blue teeth! We don't need no stinkin' blue teeth! -Seriously, I've used bluetooth technology exactly once in my life and thought that was too much...

    --The peanut gallery has chimed in...

  • I think the bigger news is that the spec includes a feature to communicate over WiFi. Only 25Mbps, but that could still be enough to take some cost out of devices that need both.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye