The benefits of certifying Bluetooth devices
Bluetooth is increasingly popular and people want it in more and more devices. Bluetooth connections are already common in phones and televisions, and soon they may appear in almost any device, even in electric tooth brushes, for example.
The Bluetooth logo can be put on a product only after it’s been certified. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) oversees and approves the certification process.
Even if exactly the same Bluetooth radio is used in two different products of which only one has been certified, only that one can have the Bluetooth logo.
The Bluetooth logo is more than a label advertising Bluetooth capability – It certifies that the device functions according to the official Bluetooth SIG specifications. This ensures compatibility between Bluetooth devices.
The Bluetooth certification also ensures that each device has an appropriate profile. This means that a handsfree headset will identify itself to the mobile phonephone as a handsfree headset instead of some other kind of Bluetooth devices.
So the Bluetooth logo is a guarantee of quality, a sign that a device with this logo is well designed.
Certification of both components and finished products
A Bluetooth product’s microchips and modules and also the finished product have to be certified.
Fortunately, a large number of already certified microchips and modules are available, and these may already have a so-called qualified design identification (QDID). These chips and modules already conform to the official specifications, which makes testing much easier.
Even if a product is made only from certified components, the finished product also needs to be certified. Therefore the product has to be registered with the Bluetooth SIG, which determines whether additional certification is required.
The Bluetooth SIG’s role
The Bluetooth SIG oversees the entire certification process and determines a testing program for each product that is registered for certification.
The testing is very comprehensive because of the existence of such an incredibly large number of different Bluetooth profiles. The profiles determine which products the tested device’s Bluetooth transmitter must support, for example a serial communication device, a mobile phone, and a computer.
The radio frequencies are also tested. If a radio frequency module is used that has already been tested, only very limited RF testing is required. Then mainly electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and antenna performance (amplification and radiated power) are tested. If the transmitter, antenna, or filter was not previously tested, the transmitter needs to be tested extensively.
Testing is expensive
Certification testing laboratories need a lot of very specialized equipment. The SIG maintains a list of authorized laboratories. The SIG has carefully defined which criteria test laboratories have to fulfill.
Software profile testing, for example, is very difficult. There are authorized laboratories in Germany, the UK, and the US, for example. There are not any certification laboratories in Finland.
Testing costs between 20,000 and 50,000 euros, depending on how much testing is required. Only features that will actually be used are tested.
Espotel arranges certification testing
The certification process demands a great deal of work. A lot of hardware and software information has to be documented. In addition, one has to know exactly what the product does and what features it will have.
Espotel arranges certification testing for its customers. We have contacts with the right laboratories and can take care of the entire certification as a turnkey solution.
Espotel’s own laboratory can also do necessary pretesting before sending a product to the authorized certification lab. Espotel’s measurement results are sufficient for writing the manufacturer’s declaration of Conformity (DoC).
For example, Espotel provides RF and EMC testing as well as antenna performance measurements.
The Espotel lab can test a single parameter or do an entire test series. This can reduce the need to use foreign test labs, which reduces costs.
After doing the agreed tests, we contact the SIG and the authorized labs for the rest of the certification process.
If customers want to take care of the certification by themselves, Espotel can advise and help them in the process.
I feel it’s a good thing that Bluetooth certification is such a precise process.
The SIG has a global database of all certified modules, chips, and products. Here one can check what has been tested and with what profiles to determine what additional tests and certifications may be needed.
About the author
Mikko Karvinen is RF and antenna design expert. Mikko has an extensive background from demanding wireless products for industrial applications as well as testing and qualifying wireless products to different applications and market areas.
Mikko can be reached at +358 43 820 0029 or by email at email@example.com