Bluetooth wireless connectivity set to take off, Intel exec says

By Paul Krill, InfoWorld |  Networking

SAN JOSE -- Bluetooth wireless communications technology, which thus far has not met expectations, will begin delivering on its promise in 2001, an Intel executive stressed at the Bluetooth Developers Conference here on Tuesday.

"Industries are coming together to support a technology that has the opportunity to deliver on a promise of a world without wires," Intel's Frank Spindler Jr., vice president of the company's architecture group and general manager of the Intel mobile platforms group, said in a keynote speech Tuesday.

Touting Intel's goal of having 1 billion devices connected worldwide via Bluetooth, Spindler said the number of attendees at Bluetooth conferences has been growing at a rate of 60 percent with each new conference, with some 3,000 persons attending this week's event. But he acknowledged "the picture hasn't been all rosy," for Bluetooth, with products supporting the standard slow to arrive.

"I think as an industry we need to focus on doing this right rather than on doing this fast," Spindler said. "Interoperability has proven to be a bigger challenge than we anticipated," due to the complexity of the technology, he said.

Bluetooth will be supported in a variety of devices, ranging from PCs and handhelds to phones, music players, tablet devices, and electronic books, Spindler said.

Intel's road map includes eventually integrating Bluetooth support at the silicon level, said Spindler. Other Intel efforts to spur wireless connectivity include increasing CPU power in notebooks to 1GHz in the first half of 2001 and to 1.2GHz in the second half of next year. Enhancing power consumption also is important, Spindler said.

The company plans to offer add-on Bluetooth products for PCs in 2001 via USB adapters and PC cards. A project code-named "Ambler" is intended to speed the integration of Bluetooth in Intel products, Spindler said.

"Every notebook will ship with Bluetooth capability in three to five years," he stressed.

"Over time the technology lends itself well to silicon integration" for inclusion in core logic products, Spindler said.

Conference attendee Gary Clark, president and CEO of Fifth World Technology, a

"Wireless Strategy and Education" company, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., concurred that integration will be key to the success of Bluetooth.

"I think there's a lot of promise. I think it's going to [depend] on the integration of products because people buy solutions and products rather than capability," Clark said.

One possibility Bluetooth offers is the development of a wireless diabetes monitor to communicate blood sugar levels of patients to physicians, Clark added.

Demonstrations of Bluetooth offerings after Spindler's speech included:

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