New Spec Makes Bluetooth Faster, More Reliable
By Eric Lin, Thu Nov 06 23:00:00 GMT 2003

The Bluetooth SIG announced specifications for version 1.2 today. The new specs works to improve the user experience, signaling that Bluetooth is moving out of the early adopter realm and into that of the mass market.

The Bluetooth SIG added a few new features to improve transmission quality, most notably, Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH). Since Bluetooth shares the same bands as many other wireless devices (Wi-Fi, Gigahertz cordless phones, etc.), AFH takes stock of what channels other nearby devices are transmitting on and will then avoid those when communicating. This improves reliability of transmissions, and has a positive impact on data speed. Apple has incorporated this technology into the Bluetooth modules on its computers, and other manufacturers may already be using it as well.

Version 1.2 also incorporates new specifications to improve voice handling. The Bluetooth SIG claims it improves voice transmission and detection in noisy areas, but no details are given.

The third improvement in the new spec is a faster connection setup. This is not faster or more streamlined pairing process (that's up to manufacturers and their software), this is just the time it takes for two devices to agree that they have some data to share and to begin the transmission, equivalent to the old "handshaking" of analog modems.

While these new additions may effect the speed and quality of the Bluetooth experience, the SIG has still not done anything to help the user where it counts: the interface. Each manufacturer can make it as difficult or as simple they want to pair devices, or to send a file to an unpaired discoverable device. Once The interface is just as critical as the technology for a good user experience.