A new low power avatar of Bluetooth, refined in India, has exploded applications
Bangalore, March 16 2015:Fifty odd years ago, when Frank Sinatra sang, "It's a blue world without you" , he was sad, not being able to connect with his lady love. Times change. Today an indigo hue signals a swift, cheap, wireless connection to everything around us. It's called Bluetooth and is slated to become the biggest technology this year for the connecting the aam aadmi to home devices, even while challenging WiFi.
Just 12 years ago, pundits had written off Bluetooth. In a case of famous last words that come back to haunt you, a writer in Electrical Engineering Times wrote a savage obituary: "Bluetooth is dead. Bluetooth is toast. Finished. Over. Stick a fork in it. It's done." It was time to move on to WiFi, he added.|
What's the scene today? Bluetooth is alive and kicking. WiFi requires a separate router -- and you have to pay a monthly broadband subscription for the basic Net connection. Bluetooth works over shorter distances -- but it's almost as fast and it self-installs for free between two or more devices including every phone system -- Android, iOS, Blackberry, Linux and Windows. Which is why Bluetooth continues to challenge WiFi in many use scenarios in the home.
Nowhere more than under the hood of loud speakers. Bluetooth has untethered our music, letting us stream it through speaker systems which can be wirelessly latched to multiple sources -- PC, mobile phone, MP3 music player -- which are safe and out of the way of over enthusiastic pets or party guests.
Bluetooth will soon make babycare easier. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in January, a US based company launched TempTraq a tiny Bluetooth-enabled patch and the first 24-hour intelligent thermometer that continuously senses, records, and sends alerts of a child’s temperature to your mobile device. In the UK, Blue Maestro has embedded a thermometer strip into a Bluetooth-enabled baby pacifier or plastic teat called Pacifi. The temperature is sent to a smart phone and parents when a limit is crossed. Expect to find these products online in India as well by year end.
Also expected to be available here in sports outlets is a new generation of phone-controlled bicycle locks. One of the cleverest is Utah-based Fuz Design's Nokē U-Lock ( no-key, see!), a sturdy Bluetooth-enabled $99 lock which recognizes the owner's mobile phone and unlocks automatically as the phone is detected nearby. The owner can also empower others to open the lock by authorising their phones. If any one else tries to open the lock or steal the bike, the lock lets out a loud alarm.
Most of these Bluetooth applications have been made possible by a new iteration of Bluetooth technology, called Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth Low Energy which works comfortably over 10 metres at a fraction of the power required earlier.
Much of the design of the chips, used by industry to create new low Bluetooth Smart applications, was done in India in the labs of CSR, the Cambridge (UK)-based company that created the world's first single chip Bluetooth device in 2000. CSR is now part of Qualcomm.
In another first for an Indian company, in December 2014, Bangalore-based Mindtree became the world's first qualified provider of Intellectual Property for the latest Bluetooth Smart version 4.2, enabling thousands of developers of wearables, smart home devices, connected medical devices and smart location tracking to quickly get their products to market.
Presiding over the global outreach of this cool wireless tool is the Bluetooth Special Interest Group ((SIG) which encourages and rewards innovation with the annual Bluetooth Breakthrough Awards. Based on this year's winners, announced on March 2, we can soon hope to see some useful devices:
SmartMat, a sensor-laden interactive yoga mat that gives you feedback on your phojne, if your asanas are not correct or if you are tiring.
Whiteboard meets 21st century with SMART kapp which leverages Bluetooth Smart technology to digitally capture, save, and share content from a dry-erase board with any PC and mobile device.
SafeWander—a wearable sensor that alerts caregivers on their smartphones when Alzheimer's patients wander. The patient wears the sensor on the foot or in a sock. Once the foot hits the floor, the sensor detects an increase in pressure caused by body weight and sends an alert via Bluetooth to the caregiver’s smartphone.
In these and other ways wireless technology is poised to connect us to a plethora of people-friendly devices which will make you say: Blues, what blues, when I've got Bluetooth?
Deccan Chronicle article