First introduced by the Swedish telecom giant Ericsson more than 20 years ago, the wireless technology standard Bluetooth will soon enable faster communication speeds and a longer range for a wide variety of Internet of Things connected devices..
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced yesterday that it has adopted specifications for Bluetooth 5, a standard that is expected to begin appearing in new devices within two to six months. The latest specifications enable connections at up to four times the range and twice the speed of the previous version of Bluetooth, the group said.
With broadcasting support for as much as eight times the message capacity of Bluetooth 4, the new standard will also help users and developers deploy "improved and more context-relevant solutions," according to the Bluetooth SIG.
Support for More than 10B Devices
Bluetooth 5 will help drive further development of the IoT by enabling reliable connections and easier adoption of beacon technology, Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, said yesterday in a statement. That, in turn, "will decrease connection barriers and enable a seamless IoT experience," he added.
With its longer range, Bluetooth 5 will make it easier to provide connectivity across entire homes and other buildings, Powell said. It will also support "new use cases for outdoor, industrial and commercial applications."
The wireless technology already supports an installed base of more than 10 billion devices around the world, according to the Bluetooth group. The Bluetooth SIG predicts that number will increase to nearly 14 billion devices by 2020, with one in three new wireless products shipping with Bluetooth technology by that time.
New Opportunities in Smart Homes, Emerging IoT
The release of Bluetooth 5-enabled devices in 2017 will represent "another milestone" in the standard's development as a technology for IoT connectivity, according to a market report released last month by ABI Research.
"While smartphones and audio accessories remain Bluetooth's largest markets, the technology is becoming more attractive to low-power IoT applications," analyst Andrew Zignani said in statement accompanying the report's release. "Though Bluetooth still faces strong competition from the other standards, mesh networking will enable new opportunities for the technology in the smart home, building automation, and emerging IoT markets in which robustness, low latency, scalability, minimal power consumption, and strong security are all additional critical requirements."
Bluetooth 5 features updates designed to "reduce potential interference with other wireless technologies to ensure Bluetooth devices can coexist within the increasingly complex global IoT environment," according to the Bluetooth SIG.
By doubling speed while continuing to support low power consumption, Bluetooth 5 will enable faster data transfers for medical devices, security systems and other applications where speed is a priority, according to the group. The low energy demands of the technology also makes it ideal for coin cell batteries or energy-harvesting devices that need to run for long periods of time on limited power supplies.