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Bluetooth 4.1 was officially released today, building on the current low power model. The updated version improves usability with increased coexistence support for LTE and data exchange, and empower developer innovation, said Errett Kroeter, director of brand marketing for the Bluetooth SIG (specs).

Bluetooth 4.1 improvements include:

  • Coexistence. Bluetooth and LTE radios can communicate in order to ensure transmissions are coordinated reducing the possibility of near-band interference.
  • Better Connections. Devices can reconnect automatically when they are in proximity of one another. The consumer can leave the room and upon returning, two recently used devices reconnect without user intervention.
  • Improved Data Transfer. For example, sensors which gathered data during a run can transfer that data more efficiently when the consumer returns home.

The last Bluetooth update was in July 2010, with the spec for Bluetooth Smart, also called Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth 4.0. It enabled low-energy technology for the Internet of Things.

A single device can now act as both a Bluetooth Smart peripheral and a hub at the same time. For example, a smart watch acts as a hub gathering information from a heart rate monitor while simultaneously acting as a peripheral to a smartphone — displaying new message notifications from the phone.

Bluetooth has become the wireless technology of choice for developers, according to the Bluetooth SIG, with over two billion devices shipping annually. The Bluetooth SIG now counts over 20,000 member companies.

Bluetooth use is set to rise to 3.1 billion units in 2017, up 91 percent from 1.6 billion in 2011, according to IMS Research.

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