Reuters Published on ZDNet News: October 3, 2006, 4:48 AM PT Mobile phone market leader Nokia unveiled a new short-range wireless connection on Tuesday that is smaller and more energy-efficient than current Bluetooth technology and can be used in devices such as watches.
The new radio technology, dubbed "Wibree," can work alongside Bluetooth short-range wireless connections but use just a fraction of the power.
"It's up to 10 times more energy efficient than Bluetooth," Bob Iannucci, head of Nokia Research Center, told a news conference.
Nokia said it had worked for five years to develop the technology and would put it through a standardization process along with a number of other wireless technology firms. When Wibree has become a standard, the technology would be available to anyone at the same reasonable terms.
"Our aim is to establish an industry standard faster than ever before by offering an interoperable solution that can be commercialized and incorporated into products as quickly as possible," Iannucci said.
Like Bluetooth--used to link cell phones with headsets, computers and printers to transfer calls, calendar items, documents, songs and pictures--Wibree provides a radio link of up to 10 meters (30 feet) between devices.
Because of their small size and low energy consumption, Wibree radio chips will make it possible and efficient to connect phones and other electronics devices to low-power watches or sports sensors and health monitors.
Nokia said it expected the first commercial version of the standard to be available during the second quarter of next year, while products using the technology should follow soon after that.
While Bluetooth is looking for ultra-high frequencies above 6 gigahertz for new faster connections, Wibree will operate in the 2.4 gigahertz band.
Nokia expects devices currently connected by Bluetooth will get a dual Bluetooth-Wibree chip, while devices that are currently not connected will use a Wibree-only chip.[MORE]
MY COMMENT: Looks to me like a direct challenge to Bluetooth from a company with enough market clout to make this a real contest notwithstanding Bluetooth's big market lead.