Health devices with Bluetooth LE set for 2010

By Brian Dolan

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which develops technical specs and evangelizes Bluetooth technology, announced today the formal launch of Bluetooth Low Energy, a part of the Bluetooth 4.0 specification. Bluetooth Low Energy has already garnered the support of the Continua Health Alliance, a consortium of more than 220 companies working on interoperability for personal medical devices and systems.

Mike Foley, the executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, told MobiHealthNews in a recent interview that personal health devices that make use of Bluetooth Low Energy should be in the market by the second half of 2010. The new tech standard enables devices as small as sensors to leverage Bluetooth LE's technology. The lower power consumption and smaller form factor will see Bluetooth LE integrated into consumer products like sneakers that have embedded activity monitors built-in to their soles: The sensor's low power consumption will enable the battery life to outstrip the life of the sneakers themselves.

Foley also noted an uptick in interest from television makers looking to embed Bluetooth LE into new TV models. Bluetooth LE could work with remote controls for the televisions, but other devices, including mobile phones and Bluetooth-enabled medical devices could then connect to the TV set to display incoming calls or personal health data.

While televisions have a long product life cycle and their adoption of Bluetooth LE is likely a few years out, connected fitness devices like activity monitors, heart rate monitors and the like will be the first connected health products to adopt Bluetooth LE, according to Foley. Devices that fall into FDA-approved medical devices will understandably have a slower path to market but they should follow the fitness group in the few years.

Bluetooth Low Energy will help medical devices, especially, maintain longer battery lifespans, according to Foley. The actual numbers depend completely on the use case, however, in some cases using Bluetooth Low Energy would enable a device's battery to last ten times as long as it would using traditional Bluetooth.

For more read this press release from Bluetooth SIG