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Bluetooth's Makeunder

6:00 PM -- Looks as if the venerable short-range connectivity standard, Bluetooth, is about to get a whole lot faster, thanks to ultra-wideband (UWB) technology.

Yes, at last one of our end-of-the-year predictions pays off! (See Bluetooth, We Hardly Knew Ye.) Bluetooth SIG Inc. says it will integrate the "Wireless USB" UWB specification from the WiMedia Alliance with the short-range radio specification, pumping up data transfer speeds from 1-2 Mbit/s to more than 400 Mbit/s.

There's no word yet on how the groups will maintain backwards compatibility between the specifications, but the ready availability of high-speed Bluetooth could open up all sorts of interesting automatic synchronization applications for enterprise users. (See Footlose & Cable-Free.) Oh, and more than likely, it will hasten the arrival of wireless MP3 and video players that can quickly grab tunes from your home computer as you enter your humble abode.

The move is probably bad news for Freescale Semiconductor Inc. , though, which was backing its "Cable Free USB" UWB specification. But then Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) are backing WiMedia, so it's always been hard to see how Freescale's spec could possibly win out.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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