The next version of the Bluetooth wireless technology is expected to transfer data 10 times faster than the current incarnation. Gadgets using it could be on the market by early next year.
The consortium behind the technology, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, said this week it has united on a standard for Bluetooth 3.0, which will include an option for the faster data transfers. Those could be useful for moving music or movies from a PC to a cell phone or media player.
Three chip companies — Atheros Communications Inc., Broadcom Corp. and CSR PLC — said they had products that would work with the new high-speed option. When the Bluetooth chip is called on to transfer a large file, it borrows a Wi-Fi chip in the same gadget to make the actual transfer. When the Wi-Fi chip isn't needed, Bluetooth turns it off, conserving power. It can then maintain a low-power connection with the Bluetooth chip.
While Bluetooth 3.0 with the high-speed option is 10 times faster than current Bluetooth, it's about 20 times slower than a USB cable, so it will likely be less than ideal for a complete music library or a long movie.
A combination of Bluetooth and a different, and potentially even faster radio technology, ultra-wideband, was announced in 2006, but delays in getting it to work prompted the Bluetooth group to look at Wi-Fi. Then the Wi-Fi-based technology was also delayed: When the Bluetooth group talked about that work early in 2008, it said gadgets could be on the market by summer 2009.