An update to the Bluetooth standard is making it easier for devices like Nike+ and the Fitbit, which need to transmit information like steps taken and pedal cadence, but had to brew their own solutions for doing so. Now they can use Bluetooth, just like earpieces and other accessories, to do so.
These popular fitness accessories have been working with juryrigged solutions over the last couple years, which isn't a problem for a big company like Nike to tackle, but a startup on a shoestring budget doesn't have the cash or time to build their own wireless protocol.
The update will allow this type of simple, real-time data flow to happen over a device's ubiquitous wireless interface that has, in the past, been used almost entirely for audio. It should make it easier for new devices to work with smartphones to do interesting things like combine a map of your bike ride with your pace.
There aren't any devices using the brand new running- and cycling-oriented profiles just yet (though there are many that may soon support them), but expect them to show up soon, perhaps at the upcoming CES consumer electronics show in January. More information on the new interface can be found in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group's press release.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.