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June 12, 2007 at 10:28 AM

Bluetooth and Nokia’s Wibree merge

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, an industry association based in Bellevue that oversees the creation of the short-range wireless technology, said today that it was merging with Nokia’s Wibree Forum, a group that develops an ultra-low-power wireless technology.

With this announcement, the two groups said, the Wibree specification will become part of the Bluetooth specification to ensure devices require very small batteries and use very little power.

The Wibree Forum is based in Nokia’s headquarters in Espoo, Finland.

“Our members have been asking for an ultra-low-power Bluetooth solution. With Nokia’s innovative development and contribution to the Bluetooth specification with Wibree, we will be able to deliver this in approximately one year,” said Michael Foley, the executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).

Bluetooth has traditionally been used for things such as wireless headsets, but increasingly it’s being used for other scenarios, such as cable-less printers, or to send information, such as a contact, between two different devices.

Wibree’s development started at the Nokia Research Center in 2001. Wibree was announced to a broader audience in October 2006 and received some criticism from the industry questioning why it would be good to have two competing standards.

“Including Wibree within an existing forum will ensure interoperability and its wide and fast adoption. The Bluetooth SIG is the optimal new home for Wibree,” said Jarkko Sairanen, Nokia’s vice president of corporate strategy.

Wibree will bring new-use scenarios to the table because the technology uses a fraction of the power of classic Bluetooth radios, the two groups said. For instance, in many cases it makes it possible to operate a device for more than a year without recharging.

The work of integrating the low-power technology within the existing Bluetooth specification has begun and the first version of the specification is anticipated during the first half of 2008.

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