Present in nearly all wireless phones and an ever-growing number of wireless devices, Bluetooth technology has become an exceptional performer for audio and data transmission. Bluetooth 4.0 introduces Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a new protocol that allows for long-term operation of Bluetooth devices in low-volume data transmission. BLE enables smaller form factors, better power optimization, and power cells that last for years on a single charge.
BLE works by engaging in brief bursts of low-bitrate data transmission, as opposed to the continuous operation of devices like wireless headsets. These brief bursts are a new data type known as an “attribute,” and are handled by the ATT protocol layer within the Bluetooth stack. While previous Bluetooth versions have required about 100 milliseconds (100 ms) to establish a connection, transmit data, and terminate the connection, BLE devices reportedly can achieve the same results in 3 ms. By drastically reducing the time spent at peak power consumption, BLE devices can operate for significantly longer periods of time with the same total power usage.