Some of us must think WiBree is the technological equivalent of a shooting star: It burst on the scene during a Nokia news conference about three months ago and then seemingly disappeared. See Nokia launches Bluetooth follow-on wireless LAN
But don't be fooled, WiBree has the potential to make the product you are designing obsolete. Whether it does or not depends on: (1) What you're designing, of course, and (2) If you are designing in what will be the WiBree space whether you integrate it or not.
Briefly stated, WiBree is a machine-to-machine protocol. Sensor to handset and handset to server might bee a more illustrative way to explain its value. The most talked about application involves medical applications: Sensor output is stored on a physician's, nurse's or other health professional's cell phone and perhaps routed to the patient's electronic file.
It could also be used in airbags (the actuated airbag sensor would also trigger an "an accident is happening" message over the driver's cell phone). It could also be used in any number of remote control applications.
We haven't heard much from the Nokia camp about WiBree for awhile and since engineers abhor a vacuum a few misconceptions have gotten some traction. In the interests of setting the record straight and bringing you up to date in the same short article, here are five things you should know about WiBree.
1. WiBree competes with Bluetooth. This is so far off base that one wonders why some people believe it. It could be that the news came out of the Nokia camp at a time when Bluetooth seemed to have lost its way. It may not have been too far an inductive leap to say that Nokia wanted to gobble up the Bluetooth market.
But it is not true. Bluetooth and WiBree are being designed to work together. In fact, the idea is to be able to integrate WiBree onto a Bluetooth die with as little additional gates and power consumption as possible. The two protocols will certainly uses the same 2.4 GHz spectrum and the same radio.
There is also the intentwhich will no doubt be realized to some degreeto reuse parts of the Bluetooth chip. CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio) the biggest Bluetooth silicon vendor, is helping out with the spec. That should tell you something about competing with Bluetooth.
2. Technology breakthroughs are required. As I understand it, WiBree is not your usual standard that requires a lot of deep thinking about new and better technologies to implement it. It is more of an off-the shelf integration in which the most important piece is an ultra-low-power radio that looks like it will be supplied by Nordic Semiconductor.
A radio can consume very little power if it can wake up, send data, and go back to sleep in very little time. The application has to be amenable to this sort of jack rabbit existence, of course, and sending sensor data falls into that category.