The AP reports plans have been announced at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona that would let Bluetooth accomplish data-moving tasks more quickly by piggy-backing on top of a Wi-Fi signal. For example, the Bluetooth-Wi-Fi combo could enable you to quickly transfer music and images between computers and cell phones. According to the plan, larger files would automatically be sent via Wi-Fi.
Michael Foley, director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, told AP that manufacturers will probably use single chips that combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities. He said the chips are still under development, but the first devices to use the technology could be on the market in the middle of next year.
"It does appear that the first products ... are going to be Bluetooth-Wi-Fi, and our members want to take advantage of that," Foley told AP, adding that all the major makers of Bluetooth chips are participating in the project.
The combination devices will use the regular low-power Bluetooth radios to recognize each other and establish connections. If they need to transfer a large file, they will be able to turn on their Wi-Fi radios, then turn them off to save power after finishing the transfer, Foley said.
The advantage to using Bluetooth in devices like phones and cameras is that the technology is a lot less power-hungry than Wi-Fi. Yet, to me, the Bluetooth-Wi-Fi combo approach seems unnecessarily complicated. A better option would be to develop Wi-Fi chips that require less power. I already have a Wi-Fi connected camera, thanks to the awesome Eye-Fi SD card, which ads Wi-Fi to a standard memory card and works like a charm. And, thanks to the iPhone, more cell-phone makers are adding Wi-Fi to handsets.
Among the reports that I’ve read, Glenn Fleishman of WiFiNetNews.com has the most in-depth reporting. Check it out here.