I continue to believe that the iPhone 4S is much better than what some in the media panned. Peter Svensson at the Sidney Morning Herald did an excellent job of reporting about a little-noticed feature that makes the 4S unique among smartphones (See iPhone 4S first phone for low-power Bluetooth). The updated Bluetooth feature enables the iPhone 4S to communicate with a new class of wireless devices not previously in the mix — for example, watches and heart-rate monitors.
Bluetooth has been around since 1994. I use it to connect my iPhone to the audio and phone system in my car and to connect a keyboard to the iPad 2. What is new about the Bluetooth chip in the 4S is that it can support connecting to devices that use much less power than has been the case. The new ultra-low power chip uses so little power that it is found in devices that are powered by a “button cell” battery like what is found in watches and which can last for years.
The industry group behind Bluetooth said these small devices will be labeled “Bluetooth Smart.” Devices such as the iPhone 4S that support the new standard will be labeled “Bluetooth Smart Ready.”
Casio announced that it will introduce a Bluetooth Smart watch in December that will be able to link to a smartphone and alert the wearer to incoming emails and text messages by beeping and vibrating. Sony Ericsson had a watch five years ago that did the same thing, but it weighed nearly half a pound because of its big battery.The possibilities in healthcare are exciting. Nordic Semiconductor, a Norwegian company, said that one of its Bluetooth Smart chips will be used in a belt that monitors heart rate and relays it to a smartphone. Other possibilities include glucose sensors for diabetics and sensors that can tell if a chronically ill person has fallen or had a significant change in posture. Home health monitoring is entering a phase of innovation that has the potential to improve quality of life and reduce the cost of healthcare. Stay tuned!