Bluetooth Tech to Interoperate with UWB, Future Radios

Members of the Bluetooth SIG outline a plan to enable Bluetooth to work with several different types of wireless radios, including UWB.

Members of two major ultrawideband camps applauded a proposal Wednesday to make the Bluetooth standard interoperable with future UWB products, the first step toward making Bluetooth a more open command protocol.

Members of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group did not give their blessing to either the Freescale-led DS-UWB standard or the Intel-led MBOA specification.

Instead, executives at the Bluetooth SIG talked up a more universal role for the Bluetooth protocol. Under the new plan, the Bluetooth protocol could be used to "command and control" several different types of wireless radios, including UWB as well as future technologies. The existing Bluetooth roadmap, which calls for the enhancement of the core specification with such attributes as quality of service, multicast support and security, will not be torn up, contrary to talk of replacing Bluetooth with UWB.

"The key thing is that we dont want to create an architecture where [the] Bluetooth [radio] is the only thing under there," said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, in an interview. "That [UWB] is probably the first generation, sure. But in the next generation beyond UWB there may be a technology that weve never even heard of, and we want to design an architecture thats flexible enough to accommodate that."

Future Bluetooth devices will use the Bluetooth protocols stack and interface in conjunction with the UWB PHY (physical layer), allowing Bluetooth devices to communicate via the UWB interface. Bluetooth manufacturer Cambridge Silicon Radio said Wednesday that it would update its roadmap and add a hybrid Bluetooth/UWB device as soon as the necessary work between the standards organizations had been completed.

The regulatory work will be a major obstacle. In addition to the competing UWB standards, a worldwide spectrum "mask" has yet to be put in place, allowing products to communicate when taken to different geographic regions throughout the globe. For that reason, Foley said Bluetooth-over-UWB devices could be as many as two years away from shipping.

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