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Analysis: Indian Bluetooth takes a big bite

Posted: 29 Sep 2005     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:rf  bluetooth  wireless  india 

Indian technology companies view Bluetooth technology with mixed feelings, with some having dropped out of the development race while others continue to bet on its future. The faithful include HCL Technologies, MindTree Consulting and Impulsesoft while dropouts after initial efforts include Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro Technologies.

Bluetooth-related activity in India covers a broad range including the development of baseband controllers, of protocol stacks, synchronizing applications for handheld devices, testing Bluetooth products, interoperability testing between Bluetooth devices from different vendors, and developing profiles for applications such as device control, audio/video data transfer, FTP and MP3 players.

Bluetooth technology developed in India is already on-board some of the worlds highest volume consumer products.

"In 2000 to 2001 there must have been 20 Indian companies into Bluetooth, but now only a third of them are into it. But we believe Bluetooth is here to stay; it is the leading and only proven short-range wireless technology in the market today," said Vinod Deshmukh, executive vice president and chief technology officer, R & D Services, Mindtree Consulting Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore. Mindtree covers the spectrum of Bluetooth engineering activitiers with the exception of radio  its BlueWiz baseband controller, protocol stack and "EtherMind" application profiles conform to Bluetooth SIG version 1.2 and have been qualified for commercial readiness. It has either licensed technology to, or built complete Bluetooth systems for, Epson, NEC, Mitsubishi Electric and Asia Pacific Microsystems, among others. The Bangalore-based Impulsesoft has just announced the latest version of its multimedia solution for in-car entertainment, called iWiND 2.0. It licensed its "iWaltz" multimedia over Bluetooth system to Texas Instruments Inc. for mobile handset manufacturers. "The lead time of any wireless technology adoption and the severe hype surrounding Bluetooth lead to early disappointment. Most abandoned any kind of product model in Bluetooth and today, most Indian companies working on Bluetooth deem it one amongst their many service offerings," said K. Srikrishna, president and chief executive officer, Impulsesoft Pvt. Ltd.

HCL Technologies believes Bluetooths future is linked to the lack of viable alternatives. "Millions of Bluetooth-enabled devices are being shipped and many new applications are emerging. If the technology remains unchallenged despite drawbacks in compatibility issues and short range, it will continue to grab big market share," said a spokesperson of HCL Technologies Ltd, Noida near New Delhi.

HCLs offerings include protocol stacks for the WinNT/98/2000, WinCE, uITRON and VxWorks operating systems, customizing the protocol to specific needs and developing and customizing applications. The stack has been licensed to OEMs in the U.S. and Japan and Bluetooth applications have been developed for a multimedia company in the U.S. HCLs wireless and embedded software division has over 700 engineers.

At MindTree, about 75 engineers work on Bluetooth-related projects. "We provide a complete solution to customers ranging from silicon to software IP, leveraging our experience in both domains. MindTrees product realization services include porting, integration, validation, system testing, interoperability and pre-qualification testing, qualification support and application development," Deshmukh said.

Impulsesoft, which has a 45-member engineering team, has a model of licensing end-to-end middleware and reference designs for customers to integrate Bluetooth multimedia capability in their end products. Products now in the market using its technology include Ten Technology's naviPlay adapter and remote control for the iPod and OpenBrain's Bluetooth stereo headset and MP3 player.

"With five million units shipping each week, Bluetooth has had the last laugh. As a market, it is far larger than the much more written about Wi-Fi and with near universal adoption in high-end phones and cars, due to regulation, and steady migration into mid-end phones, it is poised to continue dominating the short range wireless markets. The decision to use Bluetooth profiles over UWB further secures its position," ImpulseSofts Srikrishna concluded.

- K.C. Krishnadas


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