Apple's Adoption of 'Bluetooth Low Energy' Paves Way for New Possibilities

As we noted last week, Apple has adopted new Bluetooth 4.0 chips in their latest MacBook Airs and Mac Minis. Bluetooth 4.0 notably includes the Bluetooth Low Energy specification which promises a low-power and low-latency implementation that opens the door to a number of new kinds of Bluetooth-powered devices.

The best example of what will be possible comes from Apple's popular Nike+ accessory which isn't actually a Bluetooth Low Energy device. The Nike+ accessory is a sensor that sends signals from your shoe to your iOS device to track your daily runs. The information is sent from the sensor wirelessly to your iOS device where it's stored for later syncing. Nike's implementation is a proprietary one, though it is similar to Bluetooth.

Bluetooth Low Energy standardizes this sort of functionality for a broad market of devices. Like Nike's shoe sensor, the new protocol promises the ability to power accessories for more than a year on a simple button cell battery without recharging.

Since the technology is so new, there haven't been many product announcements for accessories with the technology. Casio was one of the few who has revealed a Bluetooth low-energy watch that will interface with your mobile phone.

The device can receive notifications for incoming calls, SMS and email, and can also be used to locate your phone if its within range (~5 meters). Even with the incorporation of the Bluetooth technology, the watch will run for two years on its cell battery.

Other possible uses commonly listed for Bluetooth Low Energy include:

• Find Me - electronic leash applications
• Proximity - wireless locking and unlocking, out of range alerts
• Sports / Running - stats and vitals
• Health - heart rate monitor, blood pressure, glucose monitors

EETimes suggests one interesting indoor use for these sensors given their low cost and low maintenance requirements.

One key application could be indoor location (where there is no GPS signal) whereby sensors around a large public building (such as an airport or rail station) constantly broadcast information about their location. A Bluetooth low energy equipped cell phone passing within range could then display that information to its owner. Sensors could transmit other information such as flight times and gates, location of amenities, or special offers from nearby shops.

Apple joined the Bluetooth board of directors just last month and it's likely that Bluetooth 4.0 will soon extend into their other devices beyond the MacBook Air and Mac mini. The Bluetooth site claims that virtually all new smart phones will include Bluetooth 4.0 by the end of 2012.

Related Roundups: iPod touch, iPad

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
120 months ago

With or without my permission?


Why would it need your permission?

The Airport is transmitting public data to anyone who wants to read it.

arn
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago
This is what needs to happen

Apple needs to put bluetooth 4.0 in the new Nano and then manufacture some amazing wireless headphones for working out. Why they haven't done this yet is beyond me. You can wear your Nano all the time and just put on your wireless headphones (add on accessory) and take a hike. It would be way better than running with it clipped with wires to your shirt.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago

One key application could be indoor location (where there is no GPS signal) whereby sensors around a large public building (such as an airport or rail station) constantly broadcast information about their location.


"Computer. Locate Lieutenant Worf."
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago
I'd like to see an app for iPhone coupled with small stick-on or keychain accessories that'd allow you to locate your car keys, remote controls, etc.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago
Door

I created few years ago an application that scanned bluetooth devices. If a certain BT MAC was near, it opened the door.

Problem was that it was way too slow to work in real life.

if BT4 is fast, then maybe I could make it work again.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago
This is gana be in the iPhone 5.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...

iPhone 12 Lineup Rumored to Be Named 'iPhone 12 mini,' 'iPhone 12,' 'iPhone 12 Pro,' and 'iPhone 12 Pro Max'

Monday September 21, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
Leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared the alleged naming for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup on Twitter. The tweet proposes that the upcoming iPhone 12 models will be titled "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max." The names likely correspond to the three expected sizes of iPhone 12, with the 5.4-inch model being the iPhone 12 mini, the 6.7-inch model ...

PSA: New Apple Watch Owners Have to Return Entire Device for Ill-Fitting Solo Loop or Braided Solo Loop

Monday September 21, 2020 3:26 pm PDT by
With the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple introduced two new band options, the Solo Loop and the Braided Solo Loop. These new bands are unique because they have no clasps, buckles, or other fasteners, and instead use a stretch design to allow them to pull onto the wrist over the hand. Because these bands are not adjustable, Apple sells each one in nine different sizes to make sure each person...

Hands-On With iOS 14 Widgets, Custom Icons, and Home Screen Setup

Tuesday September 22, 2020 3:25 pm PDT by
Apple with iOS 14 introduced widgets on the Home Screen, leading to unprecedented levels of customization for the iPhone. Combined with Shortcuts that let you change an app's icon, iOS 14 lets you create a whole new look for your Home Screen. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We've been following along with some of the creative alternative Home Screen designs that M...

Apple Releases First Public Betas of iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 With New Shazam Control Center Options

Monday September 21, 2020 10:34 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the first public betas of upcoming iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 updates to its public beta testing group, a few days after seeding the first betas to developers and a little less than a week after releasing the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program can download the iOS and iPadOS‌ 14.2 updates over the air after ...

Microsoft Announces Outlook for Mac Redesign, Improvements to iOS and watchOS Apps

Tuesday September 22, 2020 8:56 am PDT by
Microsoft has today announced plans to bring a new design to its Outlook for Mac app along with several other improvements and features for Outlook on iOS and watchOS. In preparation for the public release of macOS Big Sur, Microsoft has been testing a new design for Outlook on Mac. The design includes Microsoft's Fluent icons and several design cues from Big Sur such as rounded corners....

Kuo: Apple to Accelerate Adoption of Mini-LED Displays in iPad and Mac Notebook Lineups

Sunday September 20, 2020 10:00 pm PDT by
Increased competition among Apple's suppliers for mini-LED display chips will accelerate the company's adoption of the advanced technology in its iPad and MacBook lineups, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. Kuo says that while Epistar had been predicted to be the exclusive supplier of mini-LED chips for Apple products in 2021, Sanan Optoelectronics...

Interest in iOS 14 Home Screen Ideas Helps Pinterest Break Daily Download Record

Wednesday September 23, 2020 4:37 am PDT by
Apple's introduction of widgets on the Home Screen in iOS 14 has driven a surge in interest among users looking to customize their iPhone, and that has reportedly had a knock-on effect for Pinterest, whose iOS app has seen record downloads as users flock to its content seeking design inspiration. As reported by TechCrunch, App Store intelligence firm Apptopia was first to note the impact of ...

Apple Releases Eighth Beta of macOS Big Sur to Developers [Update: Public Beta Now Available]

Tuesday September 22, 2020 10:08 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the eighth beta of an upcoming macOS Big Sur update to developers for testing purposes, close to a week after releasing the sixth beta and more than two months after the new update was unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference. The macOS Big Sur beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, subsequent betas...

AT&T Already Working on 6G, Says 5G iPhones Might Not Be 'Massive Event' Due to Economic Uncertainty

Monday September 21, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming launch of 5G iPhones might not be a "massive event" due to economic uncertainty amid the global health crisis, AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh said in a paywalled interview published by CNBC. "I do believe that you will see many of the iPhone subscribers move to upgrade to the device," said McElfresh. "But I wouldn't forecast that it's going to be a massive event. I...