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All about Bluetooth 4.0

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article image Bluetooth technology

First seen on the iPhone 4S, Bluetooth 4.0 is the fourth version of the popular Bluetooth technology.

An innovation from Ericsson, Bluetooth wireless standard was first released in 1994 with the technology finding its way onto mobile devices, mostly for use in wireless headsets and headphones.

Bluetooth technology is also seen as a convenient way to send files between phones over short distances.

Previous Bluetooth Versions

Versions 1.1 and 1.2 provided the device discovery system familiar to most Bluetooth device users, which allowed gadgets to be paired by entering a default or defined password.

Version 2.0, released in 2004 increased the data transfer speed from 721 kb/s to 2.1 Mb/s by employing the Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) function. Version 2.1, three years later featured simple methods for pairing devices including Near Field Communication (NFC).

Bluetooth’s Version 3.0 added the ability to use Wi-Fi as another means for transferring data. After establishing the connection, data is routed over Wi-Fi for faster transfer. Only a few phones supported Bluetooth 3.0 whose features were not really needed during that time.

Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth Low Energy

Bluetooth 4.0 was introduced in 2010, increasing the range at which data can be sent from 10m to 100m. The most significant change in BT 4.0 was Bluetooth Low Energy, the technology that brought a Nokia feature to Apple’s iPhone and Mac products.

Similar in function to Z-Wave and Zigbee with application in home automation and appliance control, Bluetooth Low Energy was originally named Wibree by Nokia when it was introduced in 2001.

The technology could be used to send data intermittently for a long time, consuming power in the range of 0.01 to 0.5W. The quick connection set-up times allow BT LE devices to run on a small battery lasting for months.

Key Bluetooth 4.0 applications:   

  • Wireless heart rate monitors
  • Smart electricity meters
  • Powering watches
  • Remote controls for home entertainment
  • Temperature monitoring and control
  • Proximity sensing
Bluetooth SIG, the organisation that oversees the Bluetooth standard, expects most of the phones that will ship in 2012 to include this technology. The lower power consumption and decreasing cost of silicon will make BT 4.0 come for free. 


LX Group is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia specialising in embedded systems and wireless technology design.

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