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Sports, fitness devices to push Bluetooth Smart market

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Bluetooth Smart? sports? fitness monitoring? wireless technology? smartphone?

According to IHS, the Bluetooth Smart technology that uses low-power specifications for extended battery life will account for a sizeable share of sports and fitness monitoring devices shipped this year. Additionally, the technology will be present in 35 per cent of all wireless sports and fitness monitoring devices shipped this year, up from 20 per cent last year, taking share away from other low-power technologies such as ANT+ and proprietary 2.4GHz, noted the market analytics company.

The market research firm forecasted that Bluetooth Smart market share is set to grow in the years to come, rising to 45 per cent of all wireless sports and fitness devices next year, and then taking the majority portion in 2015 with 53 per cent, on the way to more than 70 per cent in 2018.

Bluetooth Smart works with a new breed of peripherals that make use of the updated Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology for low-power consumption, benefiting devices such as pedometers and heart-rate monitors that run on small batteries.

An important factor that will drive market growth forward is native support from Google for Bluetooth Smart in the next version of the Android OS, named Key Lime Pie.

"The addition of Android will act as a huge stimulus for the uptake of Bluetooth Smart technology, especially in mobile handset accessories," said Phillip Maddocks, analyst for low-bandwidth and smart networks at IHS. "With Android coming on board, the list of supporting platforms for Bluetooth Smart now totals three along with iOS from Apple and Blackberry 10. A Windows Phone update is also expected by the end of the year, which will further boost Bluetooth Smart prospects."

Adding a sports and fitness monitor to a mobile phone can enhance the user experience via downloaded apps. Fitness parameters such as one's heart rate, for instance, can be tracked more easily this way.

Already, the burgeoning Bluetooth Smart space has started to attract important players to the space. In late May, Broadcom said it was launching a Bluetooth Smart SoC aimed at applications such as sports and fitness as well as health monitoring, adding to other key IC suppliers such as Texas Instruments, Nordic Semiconductor and Cambridge Silicon Radio.

More mobile platforms supporting Bluetooth Smart will also create a growing incentive for original equipment manufacturers of sports and fitness devices to move away from proprietary technologies, added Lisa Arrowsmith, research manager for connectivity at IHS. "Smartphones can now be used as a hub device without requiring an additional dongle or dedicated display, which can allow consumers to record their information with an app and even upload information to the cloud."

The increasing uptake of Bluetooth Smart will cause a decline in the shipments of proprietary integrated circuits in the predominant 2.4GHz zone for sports and fitness monitors, down to 9.5 million units this year from 12.2 million units in 2012.

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