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Software expands Bluetooth PC peripherals market

Posted: 04 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CSR? BlueCore? BlueICE? Bluetooth? PC peripherals?

CSR has launched a software solution designed to transform wireless PC peripherals from a premium after-market purchase to a mass market standard, bundled with new PCs.

The company's BlueCore Input Connection Enhancement (BlueICE) will allow Bluetooth keyboards and mice using BlueCore silicon, to connect with the host PC simply by adding batteries. It will also allow them to be used during boot-up, before the OS has loaded, negating the need for a reserve wired keyboard. This means that wireless peripherals can now be bundled as standard with PC shipments, the company said, expanding the total available market for wireless keyboards and mice to approximately 340 million units.

BlueICE is a collection of software developed specifically to work with BlueCore4-EXT in wireless keyboards, mice and the host interface (either built into a PC or housed in a dongle). Using BlueICE for all three components of the desktop PC system allows advanced features of the software, such as Auto-Connect, to be used. The user simply adds the batteries to the mouse and keyboard. With CSR's BlueICE software, these devices will then be found automatically by the host Bluetooth module. Users can also delete any existing pairing information, discover new devices or activate the auto connect function by pushing a button on the host module and peripheral devices.

At start up, BlueICE switches the host module to HID proxy mode, allowing the BlueCore host module to present itself on the USB bus as a USB composite device containing a keyboard and mouse. In this mode, the BlueICE firmware implements the HID profile internally, allowing the keyboard and mouse to work without the Bluetooth software stack being accessible. Once the OS has fully loaded, Host Controller Interface (HCI) mode is enabled and the BlueCore host module presents the HCI interface on the USB bus. The host module can also be switched automatically to operate in regular Bluetooth mode, enabling Bluetooth connections to other Bluetooth-enabled devices.

"Simplicity of connection and the difficulty in using them to change BIOS settings were previously major barriers to the bundling of wireless peripherals with new PCs," commented David McCall, VP of the PC strategic business unit at CSR. "Consumers would need to keep a wired keyboard in reserve if they needed to boot from a CD or change the BIOS as the wireless devices needed to wait for the OS to load the Bluetooth software stack before they could connect. BlueICE circumvents this, issue meaning that a BlueICE keyboard and mouse are as simple and straightforward to use as one with a wire."

This small detail means that new PC bundles can henceforth include the latest wireless peripherals, and wireless peripheral OEMs will be able to compete with the current range of premium wireless devices which also offer pre-boot-up connectivity via a dongle.

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