The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has announced that version 4.0 of the specification could start showing up in devices such as headsets, smartphones and laptops before the end of the year.
The new version should be able to be used in considerably lower-power devices than previously, including those which run on coin-cell batteries. That could include watches, pedometers, smart meters and other tiny gadgets. Previously, Bluetooth would only go into devices packing AAA batteries or larger.
Bluetooth 4.0 will also include the ability to jump onto Wi-Fi networks that was introduced with Bluetooth 3.0. Devices that can access an 802.11 network can use it to transmit data at a much higher throughput - about 25MBitsps. Bluetooth 4.0, despite the availability of a low-power-mode, uses about the same amount of power as 3.0 in its normal setting.
No products have yet been announced that'll feature Bluetooth 4.0, but as soon as we hear of any, we'll let you know.