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About Bluetooth low energy wireless technology, Bluetooth Smart, and Bluetooth Smart Ready

Bluetooth low energy wireless technology will extend Bluetooth wireless connectivity to devices to compact electronic devices powered by coin cell batteries


Bluetooth low energy and Bluetooth v4.0


Bluetooth® low energy wireless technology is a hallmark feature of the Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0 ("Bluetooth v4.0"). The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) – the organization charged with driving development of Bluetooth wireless technology and bringing it to market – adopted Bluetooth v4.0 in December 2009.


Bluetooth low energy will encourage rapid deployment of ultra low power (ULP) wireless by providing a technology that is widely interoperable. Moreover, Bluetooth low energy-equipped products will be able to communicate with mobile phones and PCs featuring Bluetooth v4.0 transceivers, opening up a whole new range of possibilities. In summary, Bluetooth low energy is a ULP wireless solution featuring:

  • Ultra-low peak, average and idle mode power consumption;
  • Ultra-low cost plus small size for accessories and human interface devices (HIDs);
  • Minimal (if any) cost and size addition to handsets and PCs;
  • Global, intuitive and secure multi-vendor interoperability.


Bluetooth low energy will extend wireless connectivity to applications powered by coin cell batteries in the health, sports, and consumer electronics sectors. (Courtesy: Nokia)

Bluetooth low energy will extend wireless connectivity to applications powered by coin cell batteries in the health, sports, and consumer electronics sectors. (Courtesy: Nokia)

The technology operates in the globally accepted 2.4GHz Industrial, Scientific & Medical (ISM) band. It features a physical layer bit rate of 1Mbps over a range up to 15 meters.


This specification allows Bluetooth v4.0 chips to incorporate Bluetooth low energy functionality into an existing Classic Bluetooth controller. Additionally, manufacturers can use current Classic Bluetooth technology (Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR or Bluetooth v3.0 + HS) chips with the new Bluetooth low energy stack, enhancing the development of Classic Bluetooth-enabled devices with new capabilities.


Bluetooth low energy chips, which will enable highly integrated and compact devices, will feature a lightweight Link Layer (LL) providing ULP idle mode operation, simple device discovery, and reliable point-to-multipoint data transfer with advanced power-save and secure encrypted connections at the lowest possible cost. The LL provides a means to schedule Bluetooth low energy traffic between Classic Bluetooth transmissions. Profiles will include support for a variety of low power devices such as HIDs, sensors, and sports watches.


Ultra low power consumption is critical to Bluetooth low energy’s success. Because the technology is optimized for devices requiring maximum battery life instead of a high data transfer rate, it consumes between 1 and 50 percent of the power of Classic Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth low energy devices will be expected to run for many months or even years on standard coin cells (for example, CR2032, 3V lithium devices). The chips will typically operate with low duty cycles, entering ULP idle and sleep modes, to wake up periodically for a communication “burst”.


Bluetooth v4.0 chips will typically cost little (if anything) more than the Classic Bluetooth chips they will replace and are targeted at digital “hub” products such as mobile handsets and computers.


Bluetooth v4.0 chips will share much of Classic Bluetooth technology’s existing functionality and radio in a single die. Moreover, because Bluetooth v4.0 devices will use parts of Classic Bluetooth technology’s hardware, power consumption is ultimately dependent upon the Bluetooth implementation. For example, while connecting to a Bluetooth low energy device (without utilization of Classic Bluetooth technology) the Bluetooth v4.0 device will enjoy the low-power consumption advantages of Bluetooth low energy. However, in other implementations, Bluetooth v4.0 devices may not enjoy all the benefits and possibilities outlined in the latest Bluetooth v4.0 specification for Bluetooth low energy.


The Bluetooth SIG has introduced additional branding to enable OEMs to identify the capability of their products when the devices incorporate Bluetooth v4.0.


Bluetooth smart and Bluetooth smart ready


A “Bluetooth smart” qualified product must meet three requirements: Incorporate Bluetooth v4.0 (or higher) with Generic Attribute (GATT)-based architecture; feature a Bluetooth low energy radio, and use the GATT-based architecture to enable particular functionality of the device.


A “Bluetooth smart ready” qualified product must meet three similar requirements: Incorporate Bluetooth v4.0 (or higher) with GATT-based architecture; feature a Bluetooth v4.0 radio (BR/EDR + Bluetooth low energy) where both radio modes may be activated, individually or simultaneously, and provide a means by which the end user can choose to update functionality for a Bluetooth Smart device on the Bluetooth Smart Ready device.


Manufacturers of Bluetooth smart ready products should also provide a way for third parties to create and distribute applications that receive data from Bluetooth smart devices.


For the consumer, Bluetooth smart ready products provide a mechanism for the end user to update the functionality of a Bluetooth smart product. The user can download and install new applications (“apps”) to support the new devices they purchase rather than depending on the hub device being supplied with support preinstalled.


Nordic Semiconductor was an early member of the Nokia-led Wibree Alliance, the organization that started the development of an interoperable ULP wireless standard in October 2006. That organization merged with the Bluetooth SIG in June 2007. Nordic has therefore played a key role in the development of Bluetooth low energy since the start, and continues to play an important role through its work as a Bluetooth SIG associate member company.



Nordic's μBlue will be a range of Bluetooth low energy solutions based on a single chip architecture integrating radio, baseband, and microcontroller with fully embedded Bluetooth low energy software stacks. By providing a complete solution, μBlue will significantly ease the effort and cost for manufacturers to make Bluetooth low energy wireless-enabled products. This high level of integration, tiny chip size and low external component count makes μBlue ideal for size-constrained applications like watches and wearable sensors. μBlue will also be made available in a number of targeted application variants to suit the specific requirements of products in various market segments.