ARM wants to make Bluetooth kinder on batteries, more IoT-friendly

The chip designer has acquired two companies to beef up its offerings

With the Internet of Things in mind, ARM wants to improve the battery life of sensors that use Bluetooth, making it efficient enough to be powered using energy harvesting.

To help achieve this the company on Thursday announced it has acquired Wicentric and Sunrise Micro Devices. Neither company is exactly a household name, but ARM is convinced they will help it develop better Bluetooth products.

Energy efficiency is important because it has an effect on how affordable and practical it will be to deploy a product. Wicentric's portfolio includes a Bluetooth software stack and Sunrise Micro Devices' radios run on less than 1 volt, which lets them run much longer on batteries or use harvested energy, according to ARM.

This is just the latest step in ARM's IoT push. Already this year, ARM has acquired Dutch company Offspark to help improve security, which along with battery life and cost is something vendors have to get right for IoT to take off on a larger scale.

ARM isn't the only company that's been out shopping to help develop better chipsets for IoT devices. At the end of last year Qualcomm announced a deal to acquire British company CSR, which also develops Bluetooth chipsets. More competition in this sector should result in product improvements that will benefit consumers.

In general, the growing popularity of IoT is having a profound effect on how networking technologies are developed. Making mobile networks a better fit for connecting sensors is one of the design goals with 5G.

Also, a slower but more frugal version of LTE is on the way. At Mobile World Congress last month, Nokia and Korea Telecom demonstrated a prototype of the technology, called LTE-M. It includes changes to increase battery life and decrease the cost of devices that use it. The latter is in part achieved by decreasing bandwidth, which means cheaper components can be used.

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Tags internetwirelessNetworkingbluetoothArm HoldingsInternet of Things

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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