Time to focus on products, executive says

Bluetooth wireless technology has passed a difficult period of inflated expectations and standards development and is ready to enter large-scale deployment in a variety of products, an executive of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) told developers here Tuesday.

"I believe we are coming out of the trough," said Simon Ellis, chairman of Bluetooth SIG marketing, in the first keynote address of the Bluetooth Developers Conference, pointing to a chart that showed a huge spike in expectations for Bluetooth in 2000 followed by a "Trough of Disillusionment" in 2001.

Bluetooth is a short-range, low-speed wireless network technology intended mostly to link portable devices in a "personal area network." So far, it has been used mostly to connect mobile phones to wireless headsets and other portable devices.

The Bluetooth 1.1 specification was completed in March, and the focus of the SIG now is to establish interoperability among Bluetooth implementations and help vendors get products on the market.

"We actually believe it's stable enough to get products out there," Ellis said.

One development executive who attended the keynote concurred with Ellis' view of Bluetooth's development.

"I think it's probably a fairly good assessment," said Scott Wilson, chief technology officer at the Interactive Products Group of Polyvision Corp., in Beaverton, Oregon. Polyvision is developing electronic white-board products that will use Bluetooth.

The company's biggest development challenge has been the stability of software stacks and components, which has been less than hoped for, said James Watson, a consultant working with Polyvision on product development. Some have not performed as expected, he said.

"It's been kind of an awakening," Watson said. Still, the company expects to finish its products in the first half of 2002. Watson and Wilson said the stability problems were typical growing pains of a new technology.

The Bluetooth Developers Conference continues through Thursday.

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