I’ve never been too enamoured by connectivity and pairing issues with Bluetooth and I had been losing a bit of faith ever since hearing a big vote of no confidence from SVP Anders Edlund of the Bluetooth SIG at the Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit in December. But some real world demos of Bluetooth Low Energy I got at Mobile World Congress have caused me to rethink this quite dramatically.
For the last few years I’ve been involved with helping a colleague set up a Bluetooth casting service on their exhibition stand to push a mobile application to delegates who request it. We’d experienced problems with low powered transmitters because they required the phone to be in very close proximity, so took no chances and used the type of Bluetooth broadcasting devices that they use in retail outlets for Bluetooth advertising campaigns. Whilst this was very effective it had a side effect that was very noticeable – when turned up to the level we needed it to work at it was knocking out any chance of WiFi connectivity for all of the surrounding exhibition booths.
Whilst the use cases for Bluetooth Low Energy are radically different from this, I knew that the Mobile World Congress Exhibition floor was a testing environment for seeing this technology work and so I wasn’t expecting much but thought I’d give it a try and search out some products. First up was a visit to the exhibition stand of CSR PLC:
But what’s this I find on the front of their otherwise very modern and expensive looking stand?
Apparently its a weighing scale connected with Bluetooth Low Energy.
In what has got to be the poorest display of a new technology I’ve ever seen I asked the stand staff the obvious questions… Why has it got a plug? But I thought the point was incredible battery life? What are all these leads needed for?
“Oh don’t worry about that, its just some 3 year old old junk… come and see this… a Bluetooth Low Energy Remote Control for TV”
“Here give me that… let me walk over here… Wow! Now I’m impressed”. With operation from 100 meters away in one of the most crowded real-world wireless environments I could imagine. And lets not forget the real beauty of this technology: With its low power requirements this “remote control will work for over a year on a single coin cell battery even if you had used it every second of everyday” explained Marketing Manager Phil Smith, “and that’s a safe estimate”.
Impressed with the real world robustness of this technology I can’t wait till a few manufacturers get their “2 Bluetooth Low Energy Eureka Moments”. The possibilities for this technology to revolutionise Mobile Connected Health are truly endless…
This blog post is part of a series of mHealth reviews from the Mobile World Congress 2010. Click here to get the full review.