Bluetooth over Wi-Fi

The Bluetooth SIG put out a press release the other day saying that by mid-2009 a specification that includes Wi-Fi as an “alternate MAC/PHY” will be released.

This is the relevant part of the release:

What we’re doing is taking classic Bluetooth connections – using Bluetooth protocols, profiles, security and other architectural elements – and allowing it to jump on top of the already present 802.11 radio, when necessary, to send bulky entertainment data, faster. When the speed of 802.11 is overkill, the connection returns to normal operation on a Bluetooth radio for optimal power management and performance.

So this innovation specifies an interface above the Bluetooth MAC layer that enables Bluetooth session data to flow through a Wi-Fi radio instead of a Bluetooth one.

The press release says that the Alternate MAC/PHY will be used to do things like:

Wirelessly bulk synchronize music libraries between PC and MP3 player.
Bulk download photos to a printer or PC.
Send video files from camera or phone to computer or television.

But the new specification will only be useful in devices that already have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi can do these things without any assistance from Bluetooth. So the increment in value may be small; but Bluetooth can still bring something to the table. According to Wikipedia,

The Bluetooth Radio will still be used for device discovery, initial connection and profile configuration, however when lots of data needs to be sent, the high speed alternate MAC PHY’s will be used to transport the data.

It seems oddly limiting not to go the whole way, and enable Bluetooth applications to run on top of Wi-Fi even when there is no Bluetooth radio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *