I'm writing this from San Jose, California, where the Bluetooth Americas 2003 is taking place. This is a three days event, happening from 9 to 11 December 2003. The conferece is divided in two tracks:
Track A: Commercial applications of Bluetooth
Track B: Technical developments of Bluetooth
On top of these two tracks there is a free presentation series in the Solutions Seminar Theater, located inside the exhibition itself. After registration users can download the full program from totems around the floor using the Wideray technology. The version here is not Bluetooth based but their website says it can be done over infrared, Bluetooth and wi-fi. Users have just to point the mobile device to the jack point to download the small program. Next time the device "sees" the distribution point it'll download updated information. The program works with Palm OS, Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Symbian Series 60 Smartphone devices. Below you can see a couple of screenshots from a Pocket PC:
Bluetooth Americas 2003 program
In this article I'll report what I've seen in the first day of this conference. After the Chairman's Opening and the welcome address by Mike McCamon, Executive Director of the Bluetooth SIG, we had the spotlight presentation Building Mobile Market Acceptance, where Seamus McAteer, Managing partner from the Zelos Group, talked about issues that must be addressed to make Bluetooth penetration in the US market deeper. In one of the slides it was shown that forecast for 2008 is that 81.5% of mobile handsets will ship with Bluetooth. The following products would support (or already are supporting) Bluetooth in these dates:
2005: CDMA mobile phones
2004: Music Players
2002: GSM and PDA
Still according to Seamus McAteer, the focus should be in universal handsets (remember Bluephone?), wireless desktop (mouse, keyboard), and peered interaction. A neutral focus in retail fulfillment, automotive and location based content is recommended (I disagree on automotive, it should be one of the main focus), and less focus on LAN Access, retail payment and cordless telephony.
I had time to a walk around the floor before my first contact. You can see below a (bad) picture taken with my P800 (sorry for the low quality, will try better images later).
The first session I attended was Bluetooth for DoCoMo's Mobile Terminals, where Akira Shibutani talked to the audience about the requirements for 3G, 3.5G and 4G bandwidth, profiles and other technical details. He commented on the bandwidth needed for live video calls over 3G and data. In one of the slides shown there was a chart with current speed and future speeds planned for their FOMA service:
3G: 384 kbps (FOMA)
3.5G: 14.4 mbps (HSDPA or Enhanced FOMA)
4G: 100 mbps (OFCDM)
NTT DoCoMo: Bluetooth for DoCoMo's Mobile Terminals
The next session I had the chance to attend was Bluetooth Automotive Application at Toyota. The case study was the Lexus LS430, includidng the navigation system with built-in Bluetooth, integration of display, speakers and telephone controls from a touchscreen panel on the dashboard and more. The Lexus system supports up to four mobile phones pairings.
Bluetooth Automotive Application: Toyota
I then had time to talk to representatives from a company that I can not disclose now, but will in the due time describe their product, with full review. Very cool stuff.
In my next meeting I had the change to talk to Inventop's Virgine Glaenzer. We talked about their product ProximityMail. This is a Bluetooth peer-to-peer messaging application for Windows Mobile Pocket PC devices. I was told that a version for Windows Mobile Smartphone devices is in the works, and a new product called ProximityMail Kiosk is almost ready. The idea is to have the Kiosk as a bulletin board, where users could enter messages and collect replies later. Instead of an instant messaging it'd work like a newsgroup, but for a specific location. It is ideal for cafes, pubs, schools, malls and other places where people meet. The configuration will be available including a PDA to act as the hub for this communication.
I then had the chance to attend Enabling Bluetooth for Medium Volume Applications, by Nick Hunn, TDK Systems. The discussion was about using pre-qualified kits with Bluetooth functionality, to allow the creation of products even with low unit numbers in an economical scale. Of course TDK offers these too.
Enabling Bluetooth for Medium Volume Applications
I then stopped by Widcomm, and talked to Ron Wong, Product Marketing Director. I asked him what a lot of people ask here on Geekzone and other forums: Why not offer a reference driver to all Bluetooth users, like NVIDIA does with their graphics drivers. He explained that Widcomm is in the business of licencing their software. They don't actually make a Bluetooth device, unlike NVIDIA which makes its own chipset and sell it. For NVIDIA this business model works because they're selling the chipset. For Widcomm this is not attractive because the BTW driver is the only product they sell. He praised companies that offer good regression testing, after sales support and updates, but they don't have control over companies' plans. Also about the time that takes to companies to deliver updates, it's up to each company to decide on their product cycle (I was also told that the latest driver is version 188.8.131.52).
Before leaving the exhibition I had time to attend one of the free sessions: PC Bluetooth Stacks by Andy Glass, Microsoft Program Manager for Bluetooth. He is responsible for the strategic vision and roadmap for Bluetooth within Microsoft. The main idea is not to have Bluetooth, or wi-fi, or UWB, but to have wireless. He says wireless, in any form is a major shift in technology. He says that the decision for the first Microsoft Bluetooth stack to have so few profiles was strategic, to best position and learn about the product, and he says that in 2004 we'll see an update that will bring other Bluetooth profiles: PAN, OPP and VCOM, plus Selective Suspended Support for better power managemenet and boot-mode HID support, to allow BIOS access with Bluetooth keyboars.
PC Bluetooth Stacks, by Microsoft
And on my way out I found Open Interface demonstrating wireless speakers! The full prototype was a modified 50 CD holder with Bluetooth remote control (a Sharp Zaurus used as the GUI for the remote control) and the output being sent to the speakers via Bluetooth. I will try to get an image of this in another visit.