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How Bluetooth 4.0 Will Change Remote Control


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#1 td_20

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 08:22 AM

Mike Elgan
I'm a Silicon Valley-based writer, columnist and blogger, covering technology... More »


Wireless technologies have been transforming domestic life since the availability of home radios in the 1920s. Since then every new kind of wireless technology and every new application has brought more transformative changes to the home.

Television, for example, used to receive its signal wirelessly, which enabled its fast adoption in the 1950s. As the use of cable TV spread, transforming a wireless signal into a nonwireless one, wireless remote controls added another convenience.

Cordless phones changed when and where you could make and receive calls. Wireless garage door openers and other special-purpose wireless devices subtly improved people's lives in small ways. You probably have a Wi-Fi network in your home, which you use to connect computers, laptops, phones and possibly your TV to the Internet.

You probably also use another wireless technology called Bluetooth. If you have a wireless headset with your cell phone, or a wireless keyboard or mouse with your computer, you're using Bluetooth.

Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are geeky technologies working invisibly and behind the scenes to subtly and profoundly change homes all over the world. They've eliminated cables, reducing clutter. And they've freed you to place consumer electronics devices anywhere.

Now a brand-new technology is about to really change things again.

Why the new, improved Bluetooth will change your house. The fourth generation of Bluetooth technology is revolutionary. It's not just a little better than the Bluetooth you're currently using. It's massively better.

Today most chatter about Bluetooth 4.0 is about advanced gadgets, such as the highly anticipated Pebble E-Paper Watch (shown). The device will use Bluetooth 4.0 to let you control your phone, as well as household appliances and media devices like your TV, from your wrist.

Bluetooth 4.0 is also called Bluetooth Smart Ready, and one of the best things about it is that it uses much less power.

If you use a wireless mouse or keyboard, you know that the batteries have to be changed or recharged every few weeks or, at most, every few months. Bluetooth 4.0 would enable them to never have to do anything with the batteries. These devices would be charged when you open the box and remain charged for more years than you would want to use them.

This is great news, and not just for lazy wireless keyboard users. I'll tell you why in a minute.

Where Bluetooth 4.0 comes from. Bluetooth 4.0 isn’t something you buy at the store. At some point, one by one, a gazillion gadgets will add or upgrade to the new technology. The most aggressive company to build Bluetooth 4.0 into its products is Apple. This is surprising, because Apple often lags behind other companies in the introduction of new standards and new technologies.

The iPhone 4S was the first phone ever to support Bluetooth 4.0. The current iPad (shown in use above) is the first tablet to support it. In fact, every major Apple product, including desktops and laptops, shipped in the past year comes with Bluetooth 4.0 support.

By the end of the year, we can expect every major Bluetooth device, from phones to tablets to peripheral devices, to support the new Bluetooth 4.0 standard.

And that’s just the beginning.

Control4 7-Inch Portable Touch Screen - $999.00 »
What happens when everything is connected. The reason Bluetooth 4.0 will completely change everything in the home is that it will accomplish the following feats:

1. It will replace proprietary technologies. A wide range of household gadgets, from TV remote controls to room temperature thermostats to doorbells, use nonstandard tech to communicate wirelessly. New capabilities in Bluetooth 4.0 will mean all these gadgets can just use the new standard. When that happens, you'll be able to easily connect to, monitor and control things with your phone and tablet. Current tablet products, such as Control4’s 7-Inch Portable Touch Screen (shown) use Wi-Fi or proprietary wireless technologies. Because of those technologies, the use of tablets for controlling things is rare. Bluetooth will make home tablet remote controls and control panels commonplace.

2. It will enable more things to be wireless. Bluetooth 4.0 will make it cheap and easy for companies to add wireless connectivity to random things: lamps, washing machines, refrigerators, coffee makers, air conditioners, ovens and much more. You'll be able to control and monitor things from your phone or over the Internet that you previously had to control by touching the object.

3. It will let you automate things. Once an appliance or piece of functional furniture can be controlled through Bluetooth 4.0, it can be easily automated. You just need the software to control it. Your smart phone and tablet are based on an "app" economy, so you can expect literally thousands of home-control apps to come on the market over the next few years.

4. It will help appliances talk to one another. With all your stuff connected via Bluetooth 4.0, the appliances in your house can talk to other appliances without your involvement. The thermostat can turn on the air conditioner. An incoming phone call can pause your TV show. The alarm clock by your bed can turn on the coffee machine. The cell phone in your pocket can turn on the lights in and around your house as you pull into the driveway.

Futurists have been making bold predictions about the coming age of the “smart home” for decades. All these visions involve wireless technology for connecting devices to the Internet, to user control devices and to each other.

Bluetooth 4.0 is that technology. And now it’s here.

#2 Reggie

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:24 AM

Check out tōd (pronounced as "toad" -- BT 4.0 smart beacons) at Kickstarter (3 days to go):
http://www.kickstart...obile-devices-a

Edited by Reggie, 30 May 2012 - 09:24 AM.


#3 RyanE

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:08 AM

I'm in a "wait and see" stance when it comes to BT 4.0.

Yes, it *may* be integrated in a lot of devices, but it also may not.

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#4 GoGo Delicious

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:30 AM

[quote name=td_20]Mike Elgan
I'm a Silicon Valley-based writer, columnist and blogger, covering technology... More »[/quote]
[quote name=td_20]Television, for example, used to receive its signal wirelessly, which enabled its fast adoption in the 1950s. As the use of cable TV spread, transforming a wireless signal into a nonwireless one, wireless remote controls added another convenience.[/quote]
I do not get the reference between CableTV and Wireless remotes. CableTV and Wireless remotes have nothing to do with one another. Wireless remotes would still have grown in popularity without CableTV since people had the desire to turn on/off their tv, change the channel and adjust the volume without getting up.

Stating that
[quote]As the use of cable TV spread, transforming a wireless signal into a nonwireless one, wireless remote controls added another convenience.[/quote]
is a very poor comparisons of 2 technologies.

[quote name=td_20]You probably also use another wireless technology called Bluetooth. If you have a wireless headset with your cell phone, or a wireless keyboard or mouse with your computer, you're using Bluetooth.[/quote]
Most wireless keyboards and mice have moved to RF. In fact every keyboard we spec for a project is RF. We no longer use Bluetooth keyboards.

[quote name=td_20]Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are geeky technologies working invisibly and behind the scenes to subtly and profoundly change homes all over the world. They've eliminated cables, reducing clutter. And they've freed you to place consumer electronics devices anywhere.[/quote]
You can not compare WiFi and Bluetooth. WiFi has freed consumers from the "cord" and has reduced cable clutter much more than Bluetooth. Bluetooth is most popular with phone headseats. I don't know of to many wireless printers using Bluetooth as the the wireless technology being used.

[quote name=td_20]Now a brand-new technology is about to really change things again.[/quote]
Another over-hyped comment.

[quote name=td_20]Why the new, improved Bluetooth will change your house.[/quote]
More over stated comments. It will not change your house.

[quote name=td_20]The fourth generation of Bluetooth technology is revolutionary. It's not just a little better than the Bluetooth you're currently using. It's massively better.[/quote]
How is it "massively better"? As compared to what? v1.0. Version 3 and v.4 are practically the same in the two most important categories range and data speed.
1) The general range of the the Bluetooth protocol (v.3 & v.4) remains the same (up to 300 feet).
2) Version 3.0 enabled a much faster theoretical data throughput of 26Mbps.


[quote name=td_20]Today most chatter about Bluetooth 4.0 is about advanced gadgets, such as the highly anticipated Pebble E-Paper Watch (shown). The device will use Bluetooth 4.0 to let you control your phone, as well as household appliances and media devices like your TV, from your wrist.[/quote]
Well the above is certainly possible is it practical? Just because you can does not mean you should. Is controlling a tv/display through a watch the best user experience around?

[quote name=td_20]Bluetooth 4.0 is also called Bluetooth Smart Ready, and one of the best things about it is that it uses much less power. If you use a wireless mouse or keyboard, you know that the batteries have to be changed or recharged every few weeks or, at most, every few months. Bluetooth 4.0 would enable them to never have to do anything with the batteries. These devices would be charged when you open the box and remain charged for more years than you would want to use them.[/quote]
The keyboard I use with my media system (Crestron DM system) uses rechargeable batteries that I recharge using USB which I keep plugged in when not in use.

Now IF, as you state, Bluetooth devices
[quote name=td_20]would be charged when you open the box and remain charged for more years than you would want to use them.[/quote]
That would be great for keyboards since the distance can be up to 300'. Currently the keyboards I use have a 100' max distance.

[quote name=td_20]Where Bluetooth 4.0 comes from. Bluetooth 4.0 isn’t something you buy at the store. At some point, one by one, a gazillion gadgets will add or upgrade to the new technology.[/quote]
Another ridiculous statement. Are you sure I can not buy BT 4.0 at a store? A "gazillion" gadgets? come on?

[quote name=td_20]The most aggressive company to build Bluetooth 4.0 into its products is Apple. This is surprising, because Apple often lags behind other companies in the introduction of new standards and new technologies.[/quote]
I think you have this statement wrong. Apple was the first to add Firewire, USB, remove Floppy drives, Remove CD/DVD drives from their products.

[quote name=td_20]Control4 7-Inch Portable Touch Screen - $999.00 »
What happens when everything is connected. The reason Bluetooth 4.0 will completely change everything in the home is that it will accomplish the following feats:[/quote]
BT 4.0 will NOT completely change everything in the home.

[quote name=td_20]1. It will replace proprietary technologies. A wide range of household gadgets, from TV remote controls to room temperature thermostats to doorbells, use nonstandard tech to communicate wirelessly.[/quote]
I think you need to educate yourself a bit. First, "TV remotes" communicate on STANDARD technology. It's either IR, RF or WiFi. BT 4.0 just adds another wireless technology layer. IR, RF and WiFi have standards just as BT 4.0 does. Second, thermostats and doorbells are LV (Low Voltage) devices. Yes, you can control a thermostat via WiFi or RF (again standards) but it's still hardwired via LV to the HVAC/FAU.

[quote name=td_20]New capabilities in Bluetooth 4.0 will mean all these gadgets can just use the new standard.[/quote]
As I have stated above "BT 4.0 just adds another wireless technology layer."

[quote name=td_20]When that happens, you'll be able to easily connect to, monitor and control things with your phone and tablet. Current tablet products, such as Control4’s 7-Inch Portable Touch Screen (shown) use Wi-Fi or proprietary wireless technologies.[/quote]
I don't know of any company C4, Crestron, AMX, etc that has a "Proprietary" wireless technology. When it comes to Crestron, all devices are either IR, RF or WiFi. I am pretty sure C4 and AMX use the same.

[quote name=td_20]Because of those technologies, the use of tablets for controlling things is rare. Bluetooth will make home tablet remote controls and control panels commonplace.[/quote]
What makes the use of tablets for controlling things rare is the clumsiness and poor user experience it gives. NOT the wireless technology. BT 4.0 WILL NOT fix this. iPads, Tablets, Phones are not designed to control anything. They are multi-purpose devices and thus the user experience suffers. If you are checking your email on your tablet, iPad, phone, etc and you want to change the volume/channel, you have to go reopen the app, wait for it to connect (if it's not connected) before you can change the volume/channel. A C4, Crestron, AMX TP is purpose specific and are designed to control giving the user a better experience. To change the volume/channel I press a single button. I do not have to go through any screens.

[quote name=td_20]2. It will enable more things to be wireless. Bluetooth 4.0 will make it cheap and easy for companies to add wireless connectivity to random things: lamps, washing machines, refrigerators, coffee makers, air conditioners, ovens and much more.[/quote]
While 2 of the things I can see BT 4.0 added to the rest is ridiculous. Why would I want or need to control or monitor my washing machine, oven or refrigerator. I have more important and productive things to worry about.

[quote name=td_20]You'll be able to control and monitor things from your phone or over the Internet that you previously had to control by touching the object.[/quote]
That can be and is being done now. What does the above quote have to do with BT 4.0?

[quote name=td_20]3. It will let you automate things. Once an appliance or piece of functional furniture can be controlled through Bluetooth 4.0, it can be easily automated.[/quote]
HUH? Automate my furniture?

[quote name=td_20]You just need the software to control it. Your smart phone and tablet are based on an "app" economy, so you can expect literally thousands of home-control apps to come on the market over the next few years.[/quote]
Again bad user experience. An app for every device in my home, say 60+ apps or one TP thats designed to control.

[quote name=td_20]4. It will help appliances talk to one another. With all your stuff connected via Bluetooth 4.0, the appliances in your house can talk to other appliances without your involvement. The thermostat can turn on the air conditioner. An incoming phone call can pause your TV show. The alarm clock by your bed can turn on the coffee machine. The cell phone in your pocket can turn on the lights in and around your house as you pull into the driveway.[/quote]
All this can be done now WITHOUT BT 4.0.

BT 4.0 is a good technology, don't get me wrong, but it's not going change anyones life dramatically as the author suggests. Everything the author states BT 4.0 will/can do is already being done mostly through WiFi. Adding another wireless layer such as BT 4.0 will not make the user experience any better in controlling devices. Again, an iPad uses apps. You always have to open and app before you can control anything as opposed to a dedicate TP or remote where you just press a button and you immediately get results. No waiting for a "app" to open.

I do have a Crestron iPad app but I RARELY use it. In fact I only use it when I am away to make sure the alarm is set some times I forget to set it. The reason you have an automation system is to let the system run the house and if anything is not as it should be it (the automation system) sends you a text message or email to your phone, tablet or computer. If you constantly have to monitor your automation system to make sure it's doing what you want it to do than you have a problem.

Edited by GoGo Delicious, 30 May 2012 - 11:35 AM.


#5 RyanE

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:47 AM

Wow.

Nice breakdown, James. Couldn't have said it better myself.

One disagreement, a lot of companies use proprietary RF. There are standards-based RF alternatives (ZigBee, WiFi, etc.), but there's still a lot of non-standard RF (ceiling fans, remote controls, etc.)

Sadly.

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#6 DanH

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:59 AM

^James...great breakdown. I agree with every point you made.

I am still struggling to figure out what is so drastically different with Bluetooth 4.0 than the current rev?

All of what this guy is saying is straight up hyperbole at it's best.
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#7 achoudhary

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 12:14 PM

Hey, I don't see how this will work. Usually, you can't connect more than one device over bluetooth. Am I right? Won't this need some kind of controller that is connected to every bluetooth device in the house. then the iphone could send commands to any device.

#8 Reggie

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 12:22 PM

I think the OP (original poster) was meaning to quote this article: http://www.houzz.com...-Remote-Control

Anyway...

Note that the Playstation 3 remote (to control it's blu-ray interface for example) and controllers are using BT -- and it does it well. BT is also popular nowadays to stream music to BT speakers/headsets via A2DP. Not 4.0 (yet) though.

Range can be extended of course via antenna. That kickstarter link I posted above has a max range of 500 ft for example.

BT 4.0's main advantage is its ultra low power feature that will let you use a BT 4.0 device for months, even years without replacing the battery. Of course you need to use the BT 4.0 low power profile on both devices.

Only a handful of the *newest* devices have BT 4.0 -- iPhone 4S, the newest iPad, new MacBook, new Mac Mini, and Droid Razr. There might be more that have just been announced a few days ago.

You can buy BT 4.0 dev kits. Here's a shop: http://www.mouser.co...m&Ntt=189199739

BT 4.0 can be great, especially as more and more mobile devices and computers incorporate it. I would like a BT 4.0 headset and a mouse for example that would last months/years before recharging. As for automation, why not? BT is a standard and as long as there is a good reliable automation solution that can take advantage of BT 4.0, then I wish them all the best. Besides, for the consumer, majority wouldn't care what wireless technology is used anyway -- as long as it is generally reliable and expandable.

Edited by Reggie, 30 May 2012 - 12:33 PM.


#9 DanH

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 01:13 PM

Hey, I don't see how this will work. Usually, you can't connect more than one device over bluetooth. Am I right? Won't this need some kind of controller that is connected to every bluetooth device in the house. then the iphone could send commands to any device.

Most devices more story multiple simultaneous connections. I know my phone does.
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#10 asugarbe

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 08:52 AM

My concern with BT anything is that we have a hard time getting IP control on anything. Now we are talking about adding BT control to devices.

Other concern is how resilient is BT to congestion. I think WiFi has came a long way with congestion. I don't know if BT is that resilient when you start adding multiple devices with BT.

My kids heads are going to start exploding with all the beams from Wifi and BT. :D

#11 me23

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 08:13 PM

James, just to clarify Apple was not the first to use USB. Just sayin.




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