We've all heard the phrase, "If you can't beat them, join them." Well that's certainly the mantra for the Bluetooth camp today when backers for the once over-hyped technology decided to align with backers of ultrawideband (UWB) technology (For those who missed the story, check out EE Times Online Editor Spencer Chin's article).
This is actually a really smart move for the Bluetooth backers. While Bluetooth has gained traction in phones, cars, and some other consumer products, the cost of Bluetooth systems is still quite expensive (some headsets still cost over $100 ouch!). But, despite it's recent and pretty bad Enhanced Data Rate efforts, Bluetooth has failed to show a true evolution path to the data rates (better than 100 Mbit/s) that UWB backers have touted in recent years. And that lack of evolution was a death sentence to Bluetooth if it continued down its current path.
The alignment of Bluetooth and UWB is also a really smart move for the UWB camp. While UWB has the hype and certainly can be disruptive, the big question on-lookers, like me, have been asking is about the higher-layer software elements needed to make UWB a big player in the sector. For the most part, the focus of UWB has been at Layer 1 and 2, with software being a topic only marginally discussed. But, as most know in the market, the software part is the one that can kill you and in my mind would have been the thing that slowed down UWB adoption.
By partnering with Bluetooth developers, the landscape certainly changes for UWB backers. The Bluetooth SIG has defined profiles for just about every wireless PAN application under the sun. You name it, and it's there for headsets, mousse, automotive applications, and more. By tapping these profiles, UWB backers can finally start talking about a more system-level story that encompasses hardware and software. More important, they may be heading off a potential headache that could slow adoption down the road.
So, while on the surface, the move today may be seen as a survival tactic by Bluetooth, let's not diminish the importance of the move on the UWB front. In the end, the combination of the UWB physical layer and Bluetooth software profiles is really a win for both camps.
Speak Out: Who's the bigger winner in the alignment of Bluetooth and UWB technology. give us your take in our UWB forum.