Bluetooth headsets have two Achilles Heels. The first is a design problem; a lot of them look really silly, which is why people who wear their headsets all the time get made fun of. The second, and more serious issue is one of battery life. The kind of person who wears a Bluetooth headset does so because they need to be on the phone a lot. Most headsets only get a couple of hours on a charge though, which causes a great deal of hassle for the user.
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That problem might have just been nipped. Texas Instruments, designers of microchips and architects of countless engineering breakthroughs over the last twenty years, have just fixed Bluetooth. They sent out a press release today announcing their demonstration of the Bluetooth low energy standard at a conference in Munich.
What TI has done is create a coin cell battery for Bluetooth devices, similar to the batteries in hearing aids and other super small devices. These batteries can operate a Bluetooth device for more than a year without a recharge. The implications for this breakthrough are enormous. Bluetooth headsets will no longer be crippled by the constant need for a recharge. Since Bluetooth low energy is "easily integrated" with current Bluetooth technology, it won't be long until we see this tech on consumer gadgets.
In fact, TI states that Bluetooth low energy is prepared for a massive roll-out in cell phones and Bluetooth devices starting in 2010. Every headset maker on the planet is going to need to revamp their lines and send out new, low power versions of their products. That means more work for the likes of me, and budget old-tech headsets for savvy customers who don't mind the occasional battery charge.
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Of course, technology like this has implications beyond the added convenience of low power headsets. Integrating single-mode Bluetooth devices into every electronic gadget out there is now a very real possibility. I don't think we're far away from Bluetooth microwaves, light fixtures, coffee makers, or even air conditioners. In a day quite near, we could be using our smartphones as remote controls for damn near every electronic device in our home. The future looks lazier and lazier every day.