Bluetooth, the bundle of business-card and file exchange protocols wrapped on top of slow short-range radio, is expanding: The group that controls the standard, the Bluetooth SIG, made announcements earlier this year about severing its strong ties to its specific existing radio standard, and pushing for its application stack to migrate to many other radio formats, including ultrawideband. The application stack includes elements like object push, dial-up networking (used for 3G), and faxing.
The announcement today formalizes and pulls together several ongoing agreements, including their intent to work closely with The Wi-Fi Alliance on radio interference, and the Near Field Communications Forum and UWB developers on application-layer standards.
Near-field is a particularly interesting area in which communications only work when devices are touching or in very close proximity, and is being looked at for touchless payment that would avoid card swipes. The folks at Freescale are considering near-field for one of their methods of UWB device pairing.
Back in the Bluetooth radio world, Iogear releases 2.0+EDR dongles: These $40 USB 2.0 adapters support the latest Bluetooth spec, 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate, which boosts speed from 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps. While this seems trivial, it improves the overall throughput of individual audio and synchronization devices used simultaneously, making it easier to have many Bluetooth items in operation on the same network.
Iogear is shipping both Class 1 and Class 2 adapters. Class 2 adapters claim 20-meter (66-foot) range, which is the distance almost exclusively and erroneously attributed to all Bluetooth equipment. Class 1 adapters have higher-power output and can reach 100 meters (330 feet), according to the spec. Class 2 adapters are $40; Class 1, $50. Iogear's adapters are compatible with Windows as well as Mac OS X (10.3.9 or later).
Motorola and Burton allow business snowboarding meetings: The latest Burton jacket has Motorola technology embedded to take calls over Bluetooth through speakers and mikes built into the jacket. It's also wired to handle an iPod. The jacket's $600. Don't use it while skiing--wink, wink, the company says--but for calls and tune-listening after you've reached the bottom.