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Bluetooth 3.0 leverages WiFi connections

Apr 13, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

A new technology combining the easy setup of Bluetooth with the higher transfer speeds of WiFi will be released next week, reports our sister publication eWEEK. Bluetooth 3.0 uses AMP (alternate MAC/PHY) technology, which enables Bluetooth to piggyback on WiFi transmissions when available, says the story.

According to the report by eWEEK writer Michelle Maisto, while Bluetooth 3.0 will not be formally announced until Apr. 21, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group SIG has already approved its specifications. A key element will be AMP (alternate MAC/PHY) Bluetooth, a revision to the Bluetooth specification targeting devices that have both Bluetooth and WiFi (802.11) radios on board.

According to the Bluetooth SIG, AMP works by taking Bluetooth's protocols, profiles, security, and other architectural elements and allowing them to “jump on top of an already present 802.11 radio.” In other words, a pair of devices discover each other and shake hands using Bluetooth, but file transfers take place using the WiFi hardware layer.

AMP's promoters say the technology means users gain speed, without needing to know how to set up an ad hoc WiFi network. Once a file transfer is concluded, the WiFi radio falls silent and control passes back to Bluetooth, saving power, according to the SIG. The AMP specification was demonstrated at February's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Spain using a Windows laptop and a Windows Mobile phone (see video later in this story), but the technology will also be available for mobile devices running Linux and other platforms that support both Bluetooth and WiFi.

AMP can hand off file transfers from Bluetooth to 802.11 and other radios
Source: Bluetooth SIG
(click to enlarge)

According to a February report by Gizmodo, a variety of current chips, including some from Broadcom, already support AMP and will require only a software upgrade to implement it. While the chips weren't named, they may include the BCM4325, which combines 801.11a/b/g with Bluetooth and an FM receiver, and the similar BCM4329.

A demonstration of AMP at February's Mobile World Congress
Source: Gizmodo
(click to play)

Ultimately, the AMP technique will not be limited to 802.11b, but will also be able to piggyback on higher-bandwidth, shorter-range UWB (ultra-wideband) connections, according to earlier reports. eWEEK's Maisto reports that Bluetooth 3.0 will also feature an “Enhanced Power Control” feature. This will increase the robustness of connections, and prevent unwanted disconnects caused by movements such as placing a phone in a pocket or purse, she adds.


To read eWEEK's story about Bluetooth 3.0, see the publication's website, here.

To read the Gizmodo item mentioned above, see here.

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