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Apple joins Bluetooth board of directors, will aid in low-power 4.0 spec

Apple this week was named to the board of directors of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the organization that oversees the development of standards and licensing for the short-range wireless technology.

Apple was named to the board alongside Nordic Semiconductor, and join a group of existing members that includes major partners and rivals of Apple: Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Toshiba and Lenovo, to name a few. Both companies earned two-year appointments through a unanimous vote, and will officially begin their tenure on July 1.

The Bluetooth SIG said that Apple will offer the group insight on platform development, as the Cupertino, Calif., company understands that technology is now driven by "hub devices" that capture data, utilize that data at the application layer, and perhaps even upload it to the cloud. The group said in a press release that the addition of Apple "will ensure a smooth growth trajectory of Bluetooth v4.0."

"We see the importance of platform development and ultra-low power sensor silicon for Bluetooth technology and believe guidance and board participation from Apple and Nordic, industry leaders in these perspective fields, is essential," said Dr. Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. "We have set the ambitious goal of shipping five billion devices in 2015 — to get there we must continue to build a technology that will offer a simple and secure solution that can be found everywhere, in every type of device. These additions to our board will ensure we succeed in new markets we have targeted for growth."

Bluetooth 3.0 arrived in 2009, promising an eightfold speed increase by utilizing the much faster but less power efficient 802.11 radio available in devices that support both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. When not actively transferring data, Bluetooth 3.0 devices fall back to lower power mode.

The Bluetooth 4.0 specification was adopted last June, and includes "Classic Bluetooth," "Bluetooth High Speed," and "Bluetooth Low Energy" protocols. The high-speed mode is based on Wi-Fi, while the classic mode supports legacy protocols.

A comment from Apple was not featured in the Bluetooth SIG press release, though it did note that Nordic Semiconductor Director of Emerging Technologies Svein-Egil Nielsen offers "extensive experience" in research and development. It was said that the ultra-low power capabilities of Bluetooth 4.0 will greatly benefit from his participation.

"Bluetooth technology has been the main R&D focus at Nordic for the last six years and we are now in a position to enable new and exciting products for consumers," Svenn-Tore Larsen, CEO Nordic Semiconductor, said in a statement. "With our success in ultra-low power wireless technology, we know the market, applications and the customers. Nordic is proud to have the opportunity to extend this knowledge to the Bluetooth community."