Bluetooth powered multi-room audio
There is a lot of scepticism in this industry surrounding wireless technology, in particular the Bluetooth format. So when it comes to Bluetooth-enabled wireless audio distribution, you would be forgiven for instantly dismissing the idea, believing it to be more work than necessary.
But advancements in wireless technology, the release of enhanced Bluetooth specifications and the ubiquitous nature of Bluetooth-enabled devices makes Bluetooth multi-room audio a potential game-changer for the custom install channel.
“Bluetooth is a cost effective alternative to WiFi, so by incorporating it into multi-room audio systems we are essentially making home automation available to people who may otherwise not be able to afford it,” Vcomm resi-linx sales manager Jason Crabtree says.
“In the beginning, Bluetooth definitely had its fair share of issues, but it has returned as a much stronger and viable option in the market.
“With WiFi, the major issue is that it operates on a public, shared network. Bluetooth, on the other hand, operates on a one-to-one basis. If the receiver is in range, the signal remains intact with no drop-outs and limited interference.”
Vcomm, through its well known resi-linx brand, has released four Bluetooth-enabled audio products to the market, covering all levels of the CI market.
For the consumer market, they will be a launching a small receiver with a 10-15m operational radius that can connect to an exist8ing audio system via a 3.5mm jack.
For the trade market, the company is launching a high gain Bluetooth antenna, ideal for multi-room audio systems; a local input module with Bluetooth built-in; and an in-ceiling Bluetooth-enabled amplifier that simply requires a local power supply to produce 40W RMS audio streaming. This is designed for small scale systems but can be expanded to include further zones via a single Cat 5 cable.
“The Bluetooth 2.1 specification, on which our system operates, is far more stable than its predecessor. And now with news of Bluetooth 3.0, which will carry HD video signals, the future scalability of these systems will allow ideal future upgrade pathways.
“Ultimately it’s all about freedom. There are less wires and components to install, and there is plenty of room for a decent margin on the price. Further, you don’t need any experience to be able to install it as there is very little programming required. It allows someone not familiar with home automation to install a quality audio system, simply.”
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has formally adopted Bluetooth Core Specification Version 3.0 High Speed (HS), or Bluetooth 3.0. This latest iteration of the popular short-range wireless technology fulfils a consumer’s need for speed while providing the same wireless Bluetooth experience – faster. Manufacturers of consumer electronics and home entertainment devices can now build their products to send large amounts of video, music and photos between devices wirelessly at speeds consumers expect.
Bluetooth 3.0 gets its speed from the 802.11 radio protocol. The inclusion of the 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL) provides increased throughput of data transfers at the approximate rate of 24 Mbps. In addition, mobile devices including Bluetooth 3.0 will realise increased power savings due to enhanced power control built in.
This newest version of Bluetooth technology builds on the inherent qualities of the current 2.1 EDR version, including Simple Secure Pairing and built-in, automatic security. And as with all versions of the Bluetooth specification, Bluetooth 3.0 HS provides developers, manufacturers and consumers with the benefit of backwards compatibility, enabling both the expansion and enhancement of this technology with every new specification release.
With the availability of Bluetooth version 3.0 HS, consumers can expect to move large data files of videos, music and photos between their own devices and the trusted devices of others, without the need for cables and wires.
The Bluetooth SIG has also unveiled more information about its forthcoming Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0, with the hallmark feature of low energy technology. Bluetooth v4.0 will feature a powerful low energy mode designed to enable expansion of the technology in m-health, sports and fitness, security and home entertainment scenarios where button-cell battery devices proliferate.
End-user devices with Bluetooth v4.0 are expected to reach the market in mid-2011.
To ensure quality of the systems, Jason explains that resi-linx uses Class 1 chipsets, which makes pairing easier and enhances the signal quality.
“Bluetooth is so prevalent now that the next generation of the technology is available.”
With the number of large-scale new build and retrofit projects limited, the incorporation of resi-linx’s Bluetooth-enable wireless technology will allow an installer to take on a lot of smaller projects, which will help with the all-important issue of cashflow.
resi-linx’s Bluetooth-enabled wireless technology will be available from August. An Apple app is currently in development to further enhance the scope of the product line.