Home > Disrup. Technology, SDNA > Cheap software defined radio will kill Bluetooth

Cheap software defined radio will kill Bluetooth

Bluetooth has enabled a revolution of any type of cheap Chinese peripheral to talk to any tablet, PC or TV. It allows many uses via its long list of standardized profiles. However its strengths are also its biggest weakness. Bluetooth is a very complex standard and more often than not it gets abstracted away by several software layers that make it somehow manageable for “very motivated” programmers. The reason for these complexities are based on a reality that soon will stop to exist. Bluetooth assumed cheap wireless communication chips need to be designed years in advance and as such any possible use case needs to be supported in silicon not in software. Making a silicon based standard that is future proof for any use case equals adding lots and lots of complexity in the form of GATT, GAP, options, etc. 

Cheap software defined radio will change the foundations Bluetooth is build upon

What if you don’t need to define everything upfront but you still have cheap silicon? That is the promise of a new generation of software defined radio [SDR], the cheap version of a technology that used to cost thousands of dollars per device. Cheap SDR will allow the Github generation to define easy to use wireless protocols.  Since these protocols don’t need to support any and every use case upfront, we will see an revolution in wireless technologies that was similar to how businesses moved from highly standardized electronic data interchange [EDI] to XML and schemas and more recently to free format JSON and Yaml.

How will the future of wireless technologies look like?

If every appliance at home or in a business would have a cheap SDR then communication will be a matter of downloading apps for the two devices that you want to communicate. Likely there will be a github driven series of standard-by-adoption protocols but they will see rapid evolution and succession just like we are seeing now in programming languages where Java every day gets a new competitor in the form of Ruby, Go, Haskell, Rust, etc. Programming languages no longer have widespread adoption, neither have artists and anything that the masses can define what is hot or not. Bluetooth will be like the Beatles, a memory of a cool thing that had everybody excited back than but the next generation of wireless communication will be more like Justin Bieber, very important to some, safe to ignore for everybody else…

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