High (End) Wireless Act?

Although it sounds like a disease resulting from poor dental hygiene, Bluetooth is a recently established wireless standard aimed at small-form–factor, low-cost, short-range radio links between mobile PCs, mobile phones, and other electronic devices such as speaker systems. Although there were a few bumps in the road as the standard became established, Cahners In-Stat Group predicts that 1.4 billion Bluetooth-based devices will be shipping annually by 2005.

Last week, Philips Components and Bang & Olufsen announced that B&O will utilize some Philips' wireless technology in the development of Bluetooth-based digital wireless speakers. Under the terms of the new agreement, Philips will collaborate with B&O to produce a Bluetooth module that will enable the commercialization of multi-room wireless speaker products. The joint development project is expected to be completed by December 2001.

The companies say that the first B&O speaker products to utilize the Bluetooth module are expected to be on the market by early 2002 and will conform to the forthcoming A/V specification aimed at unifying the development of wireless Bluetooth-based hi-fi audio and video products. Both Philips and B&O say they hope to facilitate Bluetooth's growth by using their respective strengths and expertise to bring high-end wireless audio applications to market.

Philips' Engelbert van Pelt says that the new A/V profile is expected to be completed by mid-summer 2001 and is "critical for OEMs needing to develop wireless A/V products quickly and cost-effectively—without any interoperability issues. Teaming with a high-end audio pioneer such as B&O, we can further ensure that our OEM customers get the best digital expertise available in order to develop high-end wireless products based on our Bluetooth technology."

B&O's Peter Petersen adds that "the massive industrial momentum behind this new global standard made Philips' comprehensive set of Bluetooth building blocks a perfect choice for us. We pioneered the multi-room A/V field when we introduced our BeoLink system in 1981. With 20 years of experience in cabled systems, it is natural for us to lead the development of wireless multi-room systems."