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Wibree - Nokia's new wireless initiative

 Wibree 3rd October 2006

In what initially appeared to be a rather low key announcement, Nokia today presented its Wibree initiative to develop a standard for allowing small devices to talk to other devices in the vicinity over a wireless link.

You might be thinking isn't that what Bluetooth does? and you'd be right. Wibree is parked firmly in Bluetooth's front yard and intends to be an answer to many of Bluetooth's perceived weakness.


Essentially, Wibree is designed to be a much lower power solution than Bluetooth. This can lead not only to longer battery life, but also will enable small devices such as toys, sensors and wristwatches communicate with larger devices such as mobile phones and computers. Although companies such as Fossil make Bluetooth compatible watches, they tend to be plagued with poor battery life.

Nokia says that Wibree will support devices up to 10 metres away, at a transfer rate of up to 1 Mbps per second, although the latest Bluetooth specification allows for up to 3 Mbps and an absolute maximum of 100 metres of range. Nokia are hoping that the first version of the Wibree specification will be finalised in Q2 2007, so Wibree-enabled products are still a little way off.

In mobile phones and computers, Wibree will be able to use some of the same electronic circuitry as Bluetooth. This means that Wibree can be implemented quite cheaply for "dual mode" devices. Of course, smaller devices will be Wibree only.

It's important to note that Wibree isn't a standard - it's a technology promoted by Nokia along with several partners such as Broadcom, Epson and Nordic Semiconductor, but Nokia are promoting it as an open technology, so the chances of Wibree succeeding are good. It could well be that Wibree will be the Next Big Thing.

Wibree? What does that mean?

We don't know where the "Wibree" name, but today is probably the last chance you'll ever be able to Google for it without being swamped. Google throws up just a handful of results for Wibree (click the image to the right to see them), only one of which is relevant which is wibree.org - note though that the official Wibree site is wibree.com. In fact, the domain name was only registered on 15th September 2006.

Presumably the Wibree name is related to "Wire Free". One the other hand, Bluetooth is named after Harald I of Denmark who helped to unify the Danish people. Perhaps Forkbeard would have been a more apt name.. but then, that's marketing for you.

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