What’s new in Bluetooth Products this week?

It’s the holiday season and Bluetooth products are out to get a big share of your gift budgets. So we just looked at the latest funkiest gadgets that have been announced in the last weeks. Here’s a list. We have not tried them so we’re just listing them here in no particular order. Let us know if you have reviews on any of them.

 

1)      Bluetooth Speaker (yes another one!). But this one reads cooking recipes for you. It’s Smart Tools Bluetooth Speaker from William Sonoma and has a funky shape.

 

 

If you are interested in a full review of Bluetooth Speaker, I would refer you to Gadget great article that lists all the Bluetooth Speakers (http://www.gadgetreview.com/2012/11/holiday-gift-guide-2012-portable-bluetooth-speakers.html).

 

 

2)      Cardo headset for the cyclist. Can you talk while your heart is pumping at 200bpm? Are you the next ‘connected’ Tour de France winner (without the extra vitamins)? This one is for you? Especially on these long endurance rides across the country.

 

3)      Ferrari Speaker. Do you want to listen to your engine revving with high Motor Audio quality, the Ferrari Bluetooth speakers are for you

 

4)      Scarred of gaining weigh this holiday season or trying to build up muscle and weight. The Wahoo scale is for you. It works with Bluetooth Low Energy so for iPhone4S and above ($99)

 

 

5)      Maxi Shower Head so you can listen to your songs while taking a shower. Here you go the music will follow you everywhere!

 

 

6)      Bluetooth Headset for Skiers. Sena just came up with it.

 

 

We’ll keep you updated with new products as soon as they come out!

 

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MiniStak makes bridges between Android and iOS

Hi to all people who read this blog!

We were setting up a product using MiniStak running on Linux. And since Ministak allows to have at the same time a connection with a Bluetooth Low Energy device (ex: iPhone4S) and a Classic Bluetooth (ex: Galaxy Nexus), we thought it would be cool to enable a chat acting as a bridge between these 2 devices. Not sure it’s very useful but it was good fun and easy to set up. Video is a here and the diagram that explains the set-up is below.

 

 

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Android 4.2 integrates Broadcom Bluedroid stack!

Yes, it happened. We had heard about it and it’s now official.

 

Broadcom has officially announced the contribution of its Bluetooth software stack to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The software will also be included in Android 4.2. The Broadcom official press release is here:  http://www.broadcom.com/press/release.php?id=s721534.

 

 

This is a pretty interesting move. As Broadcom used to license its stack to phone manufacturers as long as they used its chip. So it’s a bold move. As far as we know, Samsung phones worked better than other Android phones because they had Broadcom stack which was more complete than BlueZ. We suspect that Google did not think the BlueZ was evolving quickly enough (whether for Bluetooth Low Energy and in terms of adding new profiles). So rather than stay behind, they decided to use Broadcom stack. So what’s in it for Broadcom? Why did they release the source code of something that could be seen as a strategic advantage? Well, I’m sure we can trust our Broadcom friends had a valid business reason to do so.

 

All we gathered until now is that Bluedroid was contributed by Broadcom and is released under Apache License v2 in the Android 4.2 release.  The license terms are at http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html . ** The IMPORTANT_LICENSE file states that sources in the Android aosp tree prior to the commit in the text file has a Broadcom proprietary license file.  Bluedroid sources prior to the commit in the aosp tree require permission from Broadcom. ** So it’s not clear yet to us what happens to the older files. It seems also that prior licensees of Broadcom have restricted usage. More on this matter in next Blogs.

 

Regardless, we believe that it’s a good move from Broadcom as one way or another; we suspect (a) this makes it easier to implement Android using their combo (Bluetooth/Wi-Fi) chip which should give them a slight advantage over Qualcomm in the 4G baseband platform race. Also since Samsung bought CSR Combo (Bluetooth/Wi-Fi) chip, Broadcom’s position in connectivity at Samsung is threatened and therefore by making their stack available on all Android devices, they make it more difficult for Samsung to integrate their own CSR based IP with the Android stack. The devil is in the details and it’s in the details that one will see that the new Broadcom/Android stack works better with the Broadcom chips; would you be surprised if it was the case?

 

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iPhone5 launches Lightning

One piece of information we forgot to add in the previous post is that with iPhone5, the 30-pin connector has been replaced  for a new thinner and redesigned connector. This connector is called Lightning.  This new Lightning cable is an 8-pin charging cable. It offers the advantages of being more durable, smaller and it can also work in both directions (you don’t need to worry if you’ve inserted the plug the wrong-way-up). This new, smaller connector is part of the reason the new iPhone is 20 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S.

So this new connector is easier, more robust and smaller. The disadvantage is that all the latest Apple compatible accessories will quickly become obsolete. For these devices, you can buy an adapter. However, the adapters do not support video output. In addition some adapters are not supported.

So this leaves us with Bluetooth. Bluetooth allows you to connect without a hardware interface. By designing accessories with Bluetooth in mind, you can quickly build Apps that connect to your devices with no issues whether it is for an iPhone5 or an iPhone4. For small sensors, health devices and other fitness products, it will be Smart Bluetooth. For more data intensive applications, it will be using Classic Bluetooth.

 

 

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Apple launches iPhone5 .. but also more Bluetooth in new Nano and iPod Touch

Yes, it’s the launch of the iPhone5 with a lot of anticipation. And as usual, we’re focused on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

So what’s in it for us in the short wireless spectrum?

Here is our verdict:

1) Let’s recap: iPhone5 now had iOS6. What does this mean?

a) Bluetooth is on the Main settings – More visible

b) iOS6 allows now MAP (Message Access Profile)

c) Bluetooth Low Energy can now be both a central and a peripheral (more on this in later blogs)

 

2) Now What’s new with the iPhone5 launch.

Well, iPhone5 now has an official version of iOS6 with all of the above

But also… and what not many people noticed:

1) The Nano has now Bluetooth: Yes, this is new and a big thing so Bluetooth is on all devices even the Low End. This is big! It looks like a miniature version of the iPhone and comes integrated with an FM tuner along with Bluetooth, fitness features including support for Nike+ and a pedometer.

2) The iPod touch has now also Bluetooth Low Energy: This is a big thing also! Bluetooth Low Energy will allow it to connect to all Bluetooth Low Energy we are developing. Whether it is fitness or medical or sensor. This is great!

 

 

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Samsung acquires CSR Handset Business Unit

 

Yes, it finally happened, after numerous speculations over the last few years and it’s finally Samsung that makes the first move to acquire CSR. The full presentation is at http://www.csr.com/assets/financial_reports/Investorpresentation_20120717vFinal.pdf.

 

 

So what’s the deal? How does it affect the market? Why? Any more to come?

Well, without going too much into the details, here are the highlights of the deal:

1) Samsung pays in Cash: $320M of Cash that’s not too bad. Shareholders must be happy since The whole of CSR market Cap was valued at around $600M (Yes, I know I am rounding but I am not an analyst full time on the topic). Nice!

2) CSR retains the revenues of the Handset business Unit for the near future. This near term cash is most of the value of that business unit as it stands. Double Nice!

3) CSR can still sell the IP non mobile space with virtually no restrictions and can start again promoting to handset makers within 4 years discrete solutions and within 10 years with an application processor. Triple Nice!

Seems like a good deal. Obviously one key thing is what engineers do Samsung inherit. And will Samsung invest in it and grow it into a Centre of excellence in Cambridge?

How does it affect the market? Well, there is one less supplier of connectivity solutions to the market. So this is good news to the Marvells, Broadcoms, Mediatek and Qualcomms of this world. Although CSR was not very active anymore in this space.

As for BlueCreation, we focus on accessories and seeing CSR focus on our market segments, it’s a good thing :-)

 

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Apple iOS 6 unveiled

 

On June 11th, iOS6, the latest generation of Apple’s mobile OS for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad has been unveiled.  A Beta version has been released to developpers. So we had a quick look. And there are a lot of exciting and nice features for Bluetooth. Yes, we can do a lot more things now! So these killer features are:

 

1) Bluetooth has a prime spot now. It is much easier to access and directly under settings, similar to Wi-Fi. This means that many customers will now fidn it easier to pair and connect with Bluetooth devices.

 

iOS 6 - Bluetooth Setting

 

2) Bluetooth: MAP support (Message Access Protocol). Yes, sir, we have got MAP support now. What does it mean? It means that you can now send all the text messages you receive (as well as emails) via the Bluetooth in a standard way. So Yes, we can now offer this! Pretty exciting for the development of Bluetooth and specially in Automotive applications.

 

 

Picture below using the latest iOS6 and Connected Drive Bluetooth and USB update from BMW (source: Bimmerpost.com)

 

Name:  bmw-ios6-6.jpgViews: 10001Size:  68.8 KB

 

3) Smart Bluetooth (Bluetooth Low Energy): So what is happening in this space with iOS6?

Well, we’ve been told the Server functionality is now available. So what does this mean: It means that you can have two iDevices talking and you also can get information from an iOS device. Plus we believe there are a lot of improvements generally on the API. We’re downloading it is now on one of our iPhones and will keep you posted.

This means that it’s an exciting place to innovate now! Any ideas, come talk to us…

 

 

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Microchips acquires Roving Networks

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Hello dear Bluetooth/Wi-Fi friends!

We received on Friday the news about Microchips acquiring Roving Networks (a Blueototh/Wi-Fi module provider). This is interesting because you would wonder what are the strategic benefits of such a move. By the way, more info is on: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4371341/Microchip-buys-wireless-module-maker. you can probable find it in other publications also.

So to get back to our analysis. Well, here are the reasons we can think off:

1) Microchips has numerous small/medium customers who they can sell modules to now which means that they can increase the value of the business they bought by giving access to to Microchip large customer base.

2) Microchip can now increase it’s  knowledge of the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi and Apple connectivity area and module sourcing rather than build its own team.

3) Microchips acquires a Wi-Fi chip since Roving Networks had acquired g2systems a couple of years ago. So they now have Wi-Fi IP.

While (1) and (2) are straighforward but not really that compelling we should think (will customers always be willing to pay the price of a module), (3) is a more interesting one. If it is (3) then it means they are looking at expanding their semiconductor business from small microprocessors to small microprocessor and wireless ICs. Roving networks allows them to do them without having to make a very big acquisition, sort of a nice testing ground to embark in this area. One can see a new family of single silicon microchips with low power Wi-Fi included in the near to medium future. Interesting space to watch! Look forward to hearing your comments.

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MWC highlights this year

Yes, it’s this time of the year and we ended up in Barcelona last week checking out the latest and greatest in mobile telephony.

Barcelona is usually more about infrastructure, LTE rollouts and lately Smart phone Apps (Go up Hall8 and you’ll see all of them).

So we did not expect any  big announcements but went there to see some of our customers and keep in touch with what’s happening.

So in short, what did we see (except for a lot of cool gadgets that we might post on later posts).

1) Smart Bluetooth: Smart Bluetooth or Bluetooth Low Energy is on everybody’s lips and arms for those who have seen the Casio demo. Cambridge Silicon Radio was demoing a concept model on show linked a prototype Android phone with a Casio NEC wrist watch – and the low energy Bluetooth means there are new and exciting ways to ignore phonecalls or emails.

watch inset 1 Bluetooth watches from Casio which can be used without replace the battery yearly

 

2) Qualcomm was showcasing  802.11ac (Yes, 230 Mbits/s in a crowded radio area). It’s the single spatial stream running on an MDP MSM8960. It will be in production by the end of the year and uses a 28nm process. Impressive!

 

3) Many vendors semiconductor companies were starting to demo Wi-Fi display. This is one to watch as it is gaining momentum. For example, look at Marvell announcement (http://audiodrivers.info/marvell-showcases-total-solutions-for-mobile-devices-smart-tvs-cloud.html). Below a picture of a TI demo of the same technology (source: Anantech). Interesting.

 

 

3) Wi-Fi Direct. We went round to see if Wi-Fi direct was now more user friendly. So we went to the Samsung Note and the new LG and tried to get two handsets to connect to. We will spare you the mess we did at LG where we had 6 people form the stand trying to get it to work. A small badly taken video is MWC-Vid. But bottom line, if Bluetooth is difficult to use, Wi-Fi direct still has to mature a little bit. The technology will succeed with all the momemtum it has to become easier to use for people to adopt it. On the picture bellow, it said wait 2min to connect (Who wants to wait 2 minutes to connect?).

4) RIM was demoing a one touch NFC Bluetooth pairing between any Blackberry 9900 (They all have NFC) and a beautiful Porsche (picture below, I had a hard time getting out of the car!). Since QNX is running on both ends, they made this scenario work well for them. (a) Touch the phone on a tag and (b) Voila, within what seemed like less than 2s, you are paired. Nice work!

 

 

5) A bunch of new phones were announced (not as many as usual. Samsung did not announce the Galaxy3). Nokia 808 PureView was the main one with a 41Megapixel camera! A list can be found at (http://www.esato.com/phones/mwc2012.php)

 

Will send more in a later post. Share with us what you have seen on connectivity as this is quite interesting…

 

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What’s the winning technology for wireless music?

Again, we’re at this point thinking, well, there are a myriad of technologies that are very suitable wireless streaming of music, so which one is it going to be? If you are a product maker, which one would you chose? Looking first at silicon, there are different silicon vendors with proprietary technologies. So let’s go, let’s type ‘Wireless Audio semiconductor’ on Google. So what do we get? Summit Semiconductor (http://summitsemi.com), Kleer (www.kleer.com), Dialog (with DECT but more for voice than music), Nordic (www.nordic.com) and TI (with PurePath). So if you are looking for a proprietary Audio solution, you’ve got a lot of choices. If all these suppliers have a solution, this means that the market is there and there is demand. But unless they very much differentiate, we suspect a selection of these chips are likely to become obsolete in the next year or so. Our view is that for the main stream Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will remain as they are pre-integrated on more than a billion devices. However, is there really a space for another technology in the ‘Connected Home’? Or can we consider that as soon as one of the device manufacturers (Apple or now Google) pre-integrates an acceptable technology, it will become the standard? For example, AirPlay? Wi-Fi direct? Comments welcome on this topic.

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