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Bluetooth Congress Report
The turnout for the Bluetooth Congress this year was
probably lower than for the Conference last year, but the attendance at the
exhibition was good, as was the number of real products on show.
It certainly demonstrated that you could have a huge amount of working
Bluetooth kit in a small area without major interference problems.
The Wireless Directory
had pre-arranged meetings with a number of the
exhibitors, to get their take on their new products many thanks to those
companies. Apologies for the
brevity of our report with so much to cover, were sure you appreciate the
reasons hopefully however our readers with specific interests in the
relevant product areas will spot the mention and follow up to seek more
In addition we spoke to some of the other exhibitors, but
we certainly didnt get around to them all.
So below, is an incomplete summary of some of the stories from the
Congress. If you were there and
wish to add to our report, please visit the The Wireless Directory
Message Board and add your own contribution.
Enabling with Bluetooth
Who is Using Whose Chips ?
The answer is probably still up for grabs for the volume
markets. Many of the chip suppliers
had examples of their customers products on their stands.
for example had Ericsson
phones as well as their own
Fisio 820 Bluetooth enabled
GPRS mobile phone and
Bluetooth headset. Infineon
phones and CSR
had stuff from a raft of household names in consumer electronics.
However, its clear that the silicon is evolving and coming down in
price rapidly and manufacturers are remarkably fickle when it comes to
suppliers. From the number of Bluetooth chip suppliers at the show its clear
that the market is segmenting rapidly. Consolidation
in the Bluetooth arena is inevitable many would say and the announcement at
the show of the Infineon
acquisition of Ericsson
Microelectronics may be just the first step.
Whilst at the Congress, Philips put a range of connectivity
solutions for mobile phones and PCs under
the spotlight including Philips' Fisio 820 Bluetooth enabled GPRS mobile phone
and Bluetooth headset.
showcasing their Bluemoon RF
with the Nokia Bluetooth
Claiming Design-ins with ~60% of Qualified Products,
CSR had a wide variety of their customers' products on their stand
a recent start up fables chip house, originally was the semiconductor
part of the Swiss CSEM organisation, were demonstrating their low power headset
solution, claiming it to be the lowest power solution presently available. GCT
were demonstrating their chips solutions with reference designs for several
application specific applications, as reported elsewhere in this report.
have recently announced their SieMo S50037 Bluetooth module product how did
they choose the name ? Although not
exhibiting at the Congress were happy to describe to The Wireless Directory its key claims
of low cost, improved performance over the Ericsson module and
back-compatibility, with an identical footprint, so that existing users of the
Ericsson module can retro-fit the Siemens module
with no redesign. An interesting
way to enter the market - whether the Siemens module is in fact superior to the new
Ericsson module (below) is something youll need to discuss further with the
two companies concerned
have announced their next generation of Bluetooth module at the show, supported
by a development kit and associated software, developed by connectBlue,
which eliminates the need for programming at the HCI level.
The device contains an Embedded Communications Interface (ECI) which
allows the protocol stack and profiles to be embedded directly into the module.
connectBlue are also offering development capabilities to customers
wishing to develop end products based on the new module.
were also telling a good story about their approach to create a whole new
market in embedded wireless microcontroller modules.
Their TC2000 module, 13 x 11 mm, contains their Bluetooth solution
including a user-programable ARM core. The
device is intended to make Bluetooth accessible to companies who dont
understand wireless and who dont want to. Prototypes shipped last February and the device is claimed to be now in
Semiconductor offering in the module area is a 14 x 10 mm LTCC, the
LMX9814, also offering a 50 ohm antenna and USB/UART interfaces, but without the
programmable microcontroller included in the Zeevo concept.
National were promoting the concept that the use of single chip solutions
is still at present sub-optimal, in cost terms, due to the difficulties of
achieving the same levels of yield for RF silicon that can be achieved with
Wilcoxon Research were showing their C1B, a
Class 1 Bluetooth module, as well as their BlueLynx BLM product based on this,
aimed at industrial monitoring applications.
Instruments stole the show at the chip manufacturers panel session
with their announcement of a novel approach which they claim will lead to a
commercial $4 solution (ie not just the chip) by the autumn.
Itll be interesting to see it at DevCon in December
Enabling Products with Bluetooth
The use of Bluetooth adaptor modules to wireless-enable other products was also
discussed by companies active in the field.
Blue Communications distribute the connectBlue
serial port adapter in North America and are successfully applying this
with companies wishing to add Bluetooth capabilities to existing
In Australia, HCV
Wireless have developed their own Bluetooth-enabled pre-qualified
single board computer, BlueMod, which they are using to the same end. Both
companies had excellent stories of companies they had worked with and literally
added Bluetooth onto in less than an hour !
The French company Inventel
have been active in enabling their customers products with Bluetooth.
Included on their stand were a barcode reader product from Barcoda
as well as another product from Arca
Production Protocol Tester
well known for their protocol analysis development tools, took the opportunity
at the show to launch a new $1000 production protocol testing unit.
Public Access and Local Services
and Red-M are probably
the best known in the emerging/potential Bluetooth public access infrastructure
market. Both companies were present
at the show, but unfortunately we missed their demos. Axis Communications are also addressing this
area, and gave a presentation on their approach using a Linux-based solution.
But what can you do with such infrastructures ?
were demonstrating some examples
with a range of services that appear as an option of local services in the
phone book of the normal GSM phone. Once
selected the user could choose between a range of options, such as chatting to
other users in the coffee shop, playing locally hosted games against other
guests, local weather and environment information etc.
It remains to be seen whether Nokia will launch public access products
they have not yet announced a decision on this, but clearly have the
technology if they feel this is a market to address.
Picture messaging between phones using Bluetooth was also on show at
LAN Access Points
As well as a Bluetooth module, Siemens Austria
also have launched a LAN access point product called blue2net, based around
their module, which they claimed to be the lowest cost solution presently
available. Capable of supporting 7
active clients, it is a Class 2 device, with Ethernet RJ45 connectivity, with
DSL Access Points
Inventel were showing their BlueDSL access
point, allowing local DSL access via Bluetooth. An interesting variant of this was the option of a DECT-based
variant, to allow support of DECT cordless phones as well as Bluetooth-enabled
GSM phones in the home.
Commil announced a tie up with Alcatel,
to provide on-site telephony using Bluetooth-enabled GSM phones via their
Bluetooth access points access points with their software allowing seamless
handover. The Bluetooth enterprixe
infrastructure connects via a gateway to Alcatels existing range of VOIP/PABX
enterprise infrastructure. The
seamless handover was demonstrated on their stand and worked OK, although the
VOIP voice quality left a little to be desired.
ISDN Access Points
showed off their ISDN acces point BlueTA+. It supports the Dial-up
networking profile and is compatible with all DUN devices.
They also had the serial adapter BlueRS+ showing in a new upgraded Class 1
version. In addition to AT-commands it also supports the BlueFace+ API on the
serial link such that multiple Bluetooth links, profiles and applications may be
supported at the same time.
How Can Bluetooth Increase Mobile Operators ARPU ?
At a joint press conference at the
Congress, the GSM Association and
the Bluetooth SIG publicly
launched a new joint initiative. Mike
McCamon of the Bluetooth SIG and Marcus
Taylor of the GSM Association announced how the two organisations have begun to
work together on developing scenarios and usage models from a mobile operator
perspective. The goal of the
activity is to identify a range of applications that will boost ARPU average
revenue per user for the mobile operator.
Certainly applications such as the e-mail management application from
Commtag (see below) fall into this category, as will others.
First outputs from this activity are expected as soon as this autumn
watch this space
Commtag were showing a very convincing and
really useful application with e-mail on the PDA via Bluetooth/GPRS to the
home server. The twist on this was
that the actions taken on the PDA (eg read, delete, etc) were then mimicked on
the home server, meaning that when you return to the office all the mail you
dealt with on the move is fully dealt with, and doesnt need filing etc.
Could go far
Jack Withrow from Daimler Chrysler caused a
stir with his talk at the conference, taking the opportunity to challenge the
industry to deliver not in a negative way, but rather because of the huge
potential of the automotive market. He
announced that they will have an after-market, dealer-installed, Bluetooth
handsfree carphone product in 12 months to be followed by a factory-installed
product in just 18 months.
Streaming Audio & Video
Several companies were demonstrating streaming audio and/or
video on their stands all of which without exception seemed to us to be
pretty impressive in terms of quality. Included
amongst these were Silicon Wave, GCT Semiconductor, Commil
and others we either missed or have forgotten sorry if your company was
one of these ! GCT Semiconductors demos were particularly
impressive, using Bluetooth for full 3D surround sound to wireless speakers for
a home cinema system, as well as streaming audio to Hi-Fi headphones containing
a Bluetooth module in one of the earpieces.
The claimed USP of GCTs approach was the integration of the
application software into the Bluetooth baseband chip itself.
Bluetooth Connection Kit
Communications announced the availability of their Bluetooth
Connection Kit (CompactFlash Bluetooth) for Pocket PCs, enabling Windows CE
devices to be Bluetooth enabled.
Bluetooth and Other
The Chairman of the IEEE802.15 group Bob Heile gave an
interesting resume of the activities of his group, positioning a range of
technologies as complementary to Bluetooth.
ZigBee is a lower cost technology, aimed at a
range of domestic and industrial applications that will require extremely long
battery life (in the limit never change it !) and very low duty cycle.
ZigBee has taken a fairly low profile to date, but ZigBee-enabled
products are now slated for end 2003, according to Venkat Bahl of Philips, the
ZigBee Program Manager.
originally touted for wide area cellular applications when it first emerged, has
now been repositioned as a very short range (10m) very high rate technology
a turbocharged Bluetooth if you will.
Bluetooth and Wireless LAN
One of the big issues for the past 3 Congresses has been
To what degree will collocated Bluetooth and 802.11 interfere with each other
?. It looks like this may
soon be a question of the past as several companies are clearly working on
solutions both the SIGs AFH solution and other interim proprietary, yet
forwards-compatible, alternatives. Of
those who have already gone public, Zeevo have a triple-approach
roadmap. The first approach,
Selective Frequency Hopping (SFH), is interoperable with Bluetooth v1.1 and does
not require any changes to other devices to support the solution.
A software upgrade to the silicon will support the SIG-mandated Adaptive
Frequency Hopping (AFH) scheme in the future when it is finally approved.
Zeevo also currently offers the Alternate Wireless Medium Access (AWMA)
solution which works with existing 802.11 chips and does not need special
signals to function.
Silicon Wave and Intersil
have teamed up to offer a solution to this issue, combining chips from both
companies which interwork to allow simultaneous Bluetooth/802.11 operation.
On their stand they were demonstrating realtime AV-streaming over 802.11
whilst printing over Bluetooth. They
claim to be shipping product and to have lots of design-ins already secured, about
which theyll be releasing information over the coming months.
GCT Semiconductor also indicated that they
will be sampling dual mode Bluetooth/WLAN chips in September 2002, based
on an application specific approach, incorporating the software functionality
into the baseband chip.
Bluetooth and Spark Transmitters !
Code Blue Communications are a company active
in the medical applications of Bluetooth.
At a recent medical expo they found themselves in a booth next door to a
company demonstrating electric-arc incisions for bloodless surgery (on chicken
breasts rather than people, for demonstration purposes !).
To their very pleasant surprise the Bluetooth application continued to
function unimpaired now thats good news, for a wide range of industrial
applications, not just medical ones.
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