Bluetooth publishes standards for running, cycling sensors

By Brian Dolan
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Bluetooth SmartThis week the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which is responsible for developing technical standards for the short-range wireless technology and evangelizing its adoption, announced the finalized standards for Bluetooth Smart sensors that measure speed and cadence for running and cycling. The standards are for devices that use the Bluetooth 4.0 low energy standard branded as Bluetooth Smart.

According to Bluetooth SIG, Bluetooth technology is already enjoying "significant momentum" in the sports and fitness market where Nike+ FuelBand, Polar heart rate monitors, and other popular devices have already adopted it as a means for connecting fitness data back to other Bluetooth-enabled devices like smartphones, smart watches, or cycling computers.

The Bluetooth SIG expects these new standards to accelerate the development of wireless-enabled fitness devices. According to ABI Research, shipments of Bluetooth-enabled sports and fitness devices will grow ten-fold between 2011 and 2016, to total 278 million. ABI sees that momentum being driven by a trend away from proprietary connectivity technologies and toward Bluetooth Smart.

As MobiHealthNews reported late last year, CardioMapper claimed to be the very first iPhone app to leverage Bluetooth Smart in December. The app works with Bluetooth Smart-enabled heart rate monitors to continuously stream heart rate data to a user's iPhone.

While they won't likely make use of the two standards finalized this week, IMS Research predicts a bright future for medical devices that leverage Bluetooth Smart, too. According to a report announced in June, IMS predicts that 4.7 million Bluetooth Smart-enabled consumer medical devices will ship in 2016 and some 10.3 million will ship between now and then.

“Intel sees the approval of the Running and Cycling Speed and Cadence specifications as an important milestone in the transition of low-power wireless fitness sensors from proprietary to a standards-based solution using Bluetooth 4.0," Eric Dishman, fellow and general manager of health strategy and solutions at Intel stated in the Bluetooth SIG announcement. "Intel is proud to have played a part in this effort, which we believe will improve the experience and benefits of using fitness devices equipped with these important health- and fitness-sensing capabilities.”

More on the announcement here.