Bluetooth LE Stories February 18, 2016

Use your iPhone to control any AA-powered device with this simple $10 adapter

HomeKit-certified devices are the slickest way to control your technology, but if you have any dumb technology powered by AA batteries, you can now remotely switch it on and off using your iPhone.

The Tethercell AA Smart Battery Adapter is a really simple idea. Replace one of the device’s AA batteries with this adapter, which takes a smaller AAA battery, and you can then switch it on and off from an app on your iPhone.

It’s Bluetooth LE rather than Wi-Fi, so range will be limited (the company claims 50-60 feet), but if the device is close enough, it’s a cheap and easy way to add remote control functionality. It’s compatible with all iPhones from the 4S onward.

The adapter costs $20 for two from Amazon.

Via BGR

Bluetooth LE Stories July 22, 2015

homekit-security

If you were wondering why manufacturers seemed to be rather slow in launching HomeKit-compatible devices, it may all be down to Apple’s stringent security requirements. Forbes reports that manufacturers are finding it hard to incorporate the extremely secure encryption standards demanded by Apple in order to achieve MFi certification for their products.

Apple is requiring device makers using both WiFi and Bluetooth LE to use complicated encryption with 3072-bit keys, as well as the super secure Curve25519, which is an elliptic curve used for digital signatures and exchanging encrypted keys.

While mains-powered WiFi kit is coping, the processing workload in battery-powered Bluetooth LE devices is leading to extremely slow response times, say manufacturers …  expand full story

Chrome 44 for iOS brings beacon-powered Physical Web closer to reality, new gestures

The Physical Web is an open source web specification from Google released last year with the aim to make interacting with smart devices in the real world as easy as clicking a link, just as we do on the web. Now with the company having released its Eddystone beacon technology and APIs for making this communication between devices in the same proximity easier, it’s integrating Physical Web directly into Chrome for iOS.

The latest version of Chrome for iOS, version 44 available now in the App Store, brings Physical Web content to the “Today” view. The Today view, for those who don’t know, is a section within the iOS Notification Center panel, accessed by dragging down from the top of the screen, which contains quick glance information that you may want to access often, such as weather information, calendar events, etc. But developers can also make their own widgets for this section which could include this same sort of quick glance information pulled from their own apps, as well as action buttons to perform quick tasks – like checking into a location on Swarm, for example.

What this means for Physical Web is better visibility and increased potential for adoption. While beacons have yet to heavily saturate the world, they face a chicken and egg problem: without a way for end-users to actually receive information from devices they pass by in the physical world, developers and manufacturers don’t have the same kind of incentive to design, manufacturer, and sell, and invest in beacons, and vice-versa. Physical Web, though, takes advantage of Eddystone-URL, a language that Google’s Eddystone beacon technology can send information to end-user devices in. Now that the company has a full end-to-end beacon solution – the beacon software that device manufacturers can use in their beacon hardware, as well as deeper integration into end-user devices – it will be possible for web developers to get more native-like proximity functionality out of their apps.

In addition to support for Physical Web, today’s Chrome for iOS update also adds new swipe gestures for making navigation throughout the app easier. The app is available now in the App Store.

Bluetooth LE Stories July 14, 2015

Google announces a Bluetooth beacon platform to compete with Apple’s iBeacons

Google today announced a new beacon technology called Eddystone along with APIs that together it hopes will make it easier for Android and iOS-powered devices and beacons in close proximity to communicate with one another. Unlike iBeacon, Apple’s take on the Bluetooth-based protocol, Eddystone is open source and designed to be easily extendable, compatible with any device which supports the use of beacons. A new API announced alongside Eddystone, compatible with iOS and Android devices and available to Android developers today (iOS support forthcoming), uses inaudible sound emitted from device speakers and heard from other devices using their microphones to determine when other smartphones and tablets are nearby so data can be transmitted between them.

To learn more, read the full post over at 9to5Google.

Bluetooth LE Stories April 26, 2015

bolt-1

Two of the hottest product categories at this year’s CES were home automation and wearables, which Apple is now tackling with HomeKit and the Apple Watch. As has historically been the case, the price premiums Apple has set for its products have left plenty of room for more affordable alternatives. Misfit, a company co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley, is now competing in both categories: the just-released Bolt Wireless LED Smart Light Bulb ($50) joins a small collection of Bluetooth-controlled lights, while its late 2014 wearable fitness and sleep tracker Flash ($33-$50) is in the process of being upgraded to control Bolt.

Misfit’s pitch for Bolt is interesting. It’s billing the color-shifting bulb as producing “gallery-quality light,” and focusing its new Misfit Home app for iOS on creating “Lightscapes” — lighting scenarios including neutral bright white, warm sunrises and sunsets, candlelight, forest and volcanic tones, amongst other “scenes” where the color is set but the brightness is adjustable. When Bolt works, it’s a wonderful source of light, but as is common these days, some post-release tweaks will be needed to exploit its full potential…

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Bluetooth LE Stories March 23, 2015

bravo-5

Two years ago, the Tile Bluetooth tracking device raised over $2.6 million in a crowdfunding campaign, thanks in part to an expansive ad run that seemed to blanket the entire Internet. Elegantly designed with a square plastic housing, Tile paired a low-energy Bluetooth chip with a battery, letting you track any attached item using a Bluetooth 4-enabled iPhone. Each Tile can track keys, a purse, or even a roaming pet for a year before the battery dies, at which point you are supposed to replace it. The first Tiles shipped last year, and can now be had for $20 each versus their standard $25 retail price.

I skipped Tile because I don’t like products that need to be replaced when their batteries die. Over the course of reviewing thousands of Apple accessories, I’ve watched some companies waste vast quantities of plastic, metal, magnets, and packing materials, and I try not to buy things that are designed to be worthless after a short period of time. (Note: Users are encouraged to recycle Tiles by buying discounted replacements and mailing old units back to the company.) So a new Tile competitor called TrackR Bravo ($29) appealed to me. Made partially from anodized aluminum, it’s shaped like a dog tag and designed to be kept rather than tossed away. The core functionality is the same as Tile’s, but Bravo’s battery can be replaced with ease. You can also use Bravo to locate a misplaced iPhone, and optionally sound a separation alarm whenever your iPhone and Bravo get too far away from one another…

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Bluetooth LE Stories February 22, 2015

Developer hacks Android Wear to show iPhone notifications (Video)

From 9to5Google: 

Android Wear is great, but if you’re an iOS user, it looks like the Apple Watch is going to be your only option for a while. Google has yet to make any of Android Wear’s functionality compatible with Apple’s operating system, and it doesn’t look like they plan to do so any time soon. But that’s not stopping one developer, Mohammad Abu-Garbeyyeh, from hacking Android Wear to at least support notifications from iOS devices.

Bluetooth LE Stories November 21, 2014

Screenshot 2014-02-11 20.59.55

The Jawbone UP bracelet has been on the market for three years receiving improvements every year. The Jawbone UP 24 received a major update: Bluetooth LE. Initially to sync the data onto the phone, the user had to plug the band into the phone’s headphone jack and wait, typically about fifteen seconds, for the data to sync into the app.

Now, since the UP 24 has Bluetooth LE capabilities, it is compatible with the iPhone 4S and later, the fifth generation iPod Touch, the third generation iPad and newer as well as the iPad Minis. Jawbone has made the UP 24 to be compatible with Android phones. Bluetooth LE allows the band to automatically connect with the Jawbone UP app.

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Bluetooth LE Stories November 13, 2014

proximity_sammy_960px

The rivalry between Apple and Samsung looks set to enter a new field as Samsung has announced a direct competitor to iBeacon, called Proximity.

Samsung Proximity is a mobile marketing platform that connects consumers with places via cutting-edge Samsung location and context-aware technology.

With Samsung Proximity, visitors are able to experience rich content related to their location, and marketers can better engage with customers for increased sales and brand awareness.

The applications Samsung describes for the service are identical to those already in use with Apple’s iBeacon partners …  expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories November 3, 2014

Screenshot 2014-11-03 09.13.26

Starwood Hotels has officially launched its SPG Keyless service, allowing guests to use their iPhone (and, in the Spring, Apple Watch) to unlock their hotel doors, bypassing the front desk. The boutique hotel group first announced the project back in January.

1. After booking a reservation at a keyless hotel, SPG members are invited to opt-in to SPG Keyless and register their phone through the SPG App.

2. Approximately 24 hours before arrival, the guest receives his/her room number and Bluetooth key via the app.

3. Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest can completely bypass the front desk (where available) and go directly to his/her room.

4. Then, after ensuring his/her Bluetooth is enabled, the guest simply opens the SPG App, taps the smartphone on the door lock, waits for the green light and enters the room.

The service goes live today at three Starwood brands: Aloft, Element and The W. expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories September 18, 2014

GarageBand’s iOS 8 update adds MIDI over Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting instruments

As one of the last of its own apps to get an update for iOS 8, Apple has now updated its GarageBand app for iPhone and iPad with support for the new operating system and more.

On top of the expected iOS 8 support, the app also gains MIDI over Bluetooth support, which means compatible MIDI keyboards, DJ controllers and other MIDI-based instruments can now connect wirelessly and send MIDI data to the app over Bluetooth LE. We first told you about Apple’s new MIDI over Bluetooth support in iOS 8 and coming soon in OS X Yosemite, which will also allow users to advertise their device as a MIDI device for sending MIDI from virtual apps on either OS to the other.

Also new for GarageBand is iCloud Drive compatibility, although developers have warned users to avoid upgrading to the feature before the release of OS X Yosemite.

Lastly, the app adds the ability to “Toggle the metronome on and off directly from the control bar.”

The updated GarageBand is available on the App Store now.

Bluetooth LE Stories August 18, 2014

Kickstarter campaign begins for iPhone-controlled Bluetooth padlock

Locks always struck me as the perfect application for Bluetooth LE: walk up to the lock, it detects the phone in your pocket or bag, checks the code and unlocks. If you need to let someone else in, you authorize their app on a one-off or permanent basis. Simple, secure, convenient.

There are a bunch of Bluetooth door locks on the way, and you can even lock and unlock your Mac via Bluetooth, so why not a Bluetooth padlock too? Noke is a Kickstarter campaign for a $59 lock where you simply click the hasp to unlock. Provided your phone is with you, and the app code matches the lock, it opens without key or combination.

Cleverly, you can also program the padlock with a Morse code-style pattern that you can click to open the lock if your phone battery is dead.

The campaign has an ambitious $100,000 target, so it’s by no means certain it’ll get funded, but as with all Kickstarter campaigns you lose nothing if it doesn’t make it. $59 is the Kickstarter price, with a planned retail price of $99.

The campaign doesn’t say anything about the security credentials of the lock, so it’s probably best considered something for relatively low-security applications like gym lockers and ‘cafe locks’ for bikes (ones you use just to stop someone hopping on and riding off while your bike is within sight).

Bluetooth LE Stories July 29, 2014

SmartBrick Bluetooth LEGO controller replaces infra-red remote with your iPhone

If you your kids play with LEGO Technic, and the standard infra-red receiver feels just a little 1990s, a new Kickstarter project has the answer. The SmartBrick is a Bluetooth LE receiver that forms a direct swap for the IR one, enabling you to control your hi-tech LEGO projects with your iPhone.

The SmartBrick has four ports, enabling it to control four functions, and if that’s not enough you can control up to 16 SmartBricks from the app, providing a total of 64 controls. Because it’s Bluetooth LE, you can embed the controller inside your model, and you get around 300 feet of range – and even control your device over the Internet.

The app allows you to choose the remote control profile you’d like for your device. Joystick, gamepad and gyroscopic controls are offered as standard, and you can create your own custom controls.

A pledge of £40 ($68) gets you a brick from the first production run, but there are still some Early Bird specials available for £29 ($49).

Bluetooth LE Stories June 20, 2014

Handoff

Some Mac users, specifically those with Macs that don’t support Bluetooth LE, weren’t too happy to find out that meant they would likely not get to use Apple’s new Handoff feature to seamlessly switch between apps across Macs and iOS devices.  To be clear, Apple has not yet confirmed details of device compatibility for most Yosemite features, but some users have reported that only Mid 2011 MacBook Airs, Mid 2012 MacBook Pros, late 2012 iMacs, and 2013 Mac Pro or newer models– the Macs that include Bluetooth LE– appear to support the feature. We’ve learned from people with knowledge of the matter that Apple is still testing the feature and yet to finalize which Macs will be capable of supporting it. expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories June 10, 2014

Ringly Pink-Sapphire

New startup Ringly seeks to help solve a problem that many busy women have: missing important phone calls, texts or notifications because they cannot hear their phone go off in their purse, or find the phone quickly enough to get to it. Personally, I’ve run into this problem several times.

Ringly’s solution looks like an ordinary fashionable ring, but is actually a high-tech smart ring that can notify users of incoming messages, notifications, phone calls, and more.

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Bluetooth LE Stories June 5, 2014

Withings-Wireless-Blood-Pressure-Monitor

Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Apple’s new HealthKit platform and Health app for iOS 8 acts as a central location for users to store and share health data from third-party apps, but Apple is also supporting some Bluetooth accessories natively in the Health app. That means that some accessory manufacturers will be able to skip the process of developing a companion app for their product and instead allow HealthKit to automatically connect to and control the device itself.  expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories May 29, 2014

GE-iBeacon-LED-Lighting-Fixture

Up until now most retailers have been deploying Apple’s iBeacon technology by purchasing small standalone Bluetooth beacons or using iPad terminals that act as beacons. Now, GE is introducing its next-generation LED light fixture that packs in a combo Bluetooth LE/Visual Light Communication chip for iBeacon functionality allowing retailers to cut costs and avoid purchasing standalone beacons from a company like Estimote. It’s already got one massive customer about to roll out the iBeacon lighting fixtures: Walmart announced back in April (before iBeacon support was announced) that it plans to roll out these same new GE lighting fixtures to stores worldwide as part of its switch to LED. expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories May 21, 2014

Bubble, a new app launching this week, is about to make it super easy for anyone to link real world items to websites using Apple’s new iBeacon Bluetooth LE technology. Up until now retailers, event planners, and more have been using iBeacons in order to send relevant notifications to users in proximity, but that required users to actually have that specific retailer’s app installed. Bubble, on the other hand, acts as an iBeacon browser of sorts allowing users to discover web content as they come in contact with real world items.  expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories May 7, 2014

Dropcam adds $29 motion sensors (and teaches its cam to recognize cats)

Dropcam, whose Wi-Fi video security system impressed us when we previously tried it, is now adding separate motion sensors to its product range. Costing just $29 each, Dropcam Tabs are small, weather-resistant devices that can be attached to doors, windows, and valuables. They use Bluetooth LE to connect to your existing Dropcam Pro camera which then sends push alerts when motion is detected, turning it into a much more comprehensive security system.

Dropcam says battery-life is rated for around two years, making Tabs close to fit-and-forget. Tabs can be pre-ordered today, and will be shipped in the summer.

The company has also made the Dropcam Pro suitable for more households by allowing it to recognize and ignore cats. Previously, the system would send push alerts any time it detected any movement, creating lots of false alarms as Tiddles engaged in her hectic schedule of moving from the sofa to the food dish and back.

Detecting pets usually requires 3D sensor systems which can measure the size of moving things, but Dropcam says that it has analyzed many hours of publicly-shared video in order to teach the system to recognize cats using only analysis of the visual data.

Bluetooth LE Stories April 28, 2014

The first set of eye glasses with embedded iBeacon Bluetooth LE technology and certified under Apple’s Made-for-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) program are coming soon. We’ve seen a growing number of companies embracing iBeacons by using the protocol: personalized retail experiences, in-store advertising, audience interaction at events, as well as apps that let you setup your own iBeacons at home and work. Now, a company called Tzukuri is about to launch a crowd funding project for the new eye glasses that use an embedded iBeacon to track lost glasses with accuracy to the nearest foot. They also use solar power, so charging is never an issue, and the company has big plans for using the product as a standalone iBeacon when on store shelves. expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories April 16, 2014

Texas Instruments adds iBeacon support to its Bluetooth LE chip and dev kit products

Texas Instruments announced today that it is adding iBeacon support across its Bluetooth LE chips and development kits. The company is starting by adding support to some of its Bluetooth wireless micro controllers, an automotive connectivity device, and other combo Wi-Fi/Bluetooth products and development kits. TI’s Oyvind Birkenes imagines support for iBeacons in its Bluetooth chips opening up new possibilities for Apple’s Bluetooth LE platform including “asset trackers, retail, building automation systems, automotive and industrial applications, and a wide variety of consumer electronics” beyond what we’ve seen so far. 

Bluetooth LE Stories February 25, 2014

Eversense-Aura-iBeacon

Aura iBeacons coming soon for EverSense smart thermostat

iBeacon, Apple’s new framework for using low-cost Bluetooth LE devices to beam notifications to nearby smartphones and tablets, will soon be getting a bigger push from Apple and third-party manufacturers through its Made-For-iPhone program. While “iBeacon” is often used in the media to describe any Bluetooth beacon, Apple is now implementing tighter control over who can use the ‘iBeacon’ branding. Much like it requires for manufacturers placing the “Made-for-iPhone” branding on Apple authorized devices, Apple is now requiring manufacturers meet certain specifications before using ‘iBeacon’ on their products. The change was first spotted by Beekn.net. It appears the program is separate from the main Bluetooth MFi specification as it still asks that accessory manufacturers not support the iBeacon feature. expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories January 28, 2014

touchid

When Touch ID was first rumored, there had been much speculation about whether the iPhone 5s would act as an electronic wallet, with payments to retailers authorized by fingerprint. While that hasn’t yet happened, it does now seem clear that it’s on the way.

Asked about mobile payments during yesterday’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook gave what is, in Apple terms, a surprisingly direct response.

The mobile payments area in general is one we’ve been intrigued with. It was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID […] it’s a big opportunity …  expand full story

Bluetooth LE Stories January 7, 2014

CES coverage brought to you by Belkin

Back in June we reported that Apple was getting ready to introduce new Bluetooth Low Energy hearing aid technology it developed to significantly improve the current crop of products on the market. Apple expected partners in its MFi program to introduce hearing aid and cochlear implant products using the technology this year, and last night we got a look at the first MFi hearing aid about to launch globally this quarter during the Bluetooth SIG event at CES 2014. GN’s Resound Linx is trickling out in select markets as we speak but a full global launch is about to happen sometime this quarter.

Not only is Resound Linx the world’s smallest hearing aid and the first Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod through Apple’s official program, the connection to an iPhone over the 2.4GHz frequency and Apple’s advancements in low powered Bluetooth tech for hearing aid products will also provide some other first of their kind features for the Linx. The hearing aid will essentially also function as a high-quality headset, allowing users to answer calls, listen to turn-by-turn directions, and much more on their iOS device. The most notable advancement, however, is the ability to fine tune the hearing aid experience through a dedicated iOS app: expand full story

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