The newest upcoming iteration of the Bluetooth specification – Bluetooth 5 – has recently been announced by the Bluetooth Special Industry Group – the industry consortium responsible for developing, standardising and promoting Bluetooth wireless technology.
Bluetooth 5 is expected to be released around the end of this year or the beginning of 2017 – and will offer significant increases in performance with up to four times the range, double the data rate and an eight-fold increase in broadcast messaging capacity.
This new evolution of the Bluetooth standard is all about doing more with less, offering rich new experiences which are compatible with customer expectations in today’s Internet-of-Things market – including greater bandwidth, a longer range while also retaining the very low power consumption of Bluetooth 4.0.
The Bluetooth standard has not had a major version bump since the release of Bluetooth 4.0 in 2009, and the Internet-of-Things market has clearly come a long way in the last seven years. One of the main goals of Bluetooth 5 is to remain at the forefront of the fast-moving Internet-of-Things space, both in terms of interoperability and back-end RF network technology as well as the front-end use cases and experiences that consumers expect from modern IoT products and technologies.
The “Bluetooth 4.0” version nomenclature has also been dropped, with a focus on a more streamlined version branding that is easier for the average customer to understand as a major technology revision when they’re shopping for new phones or devices.
While the exact range may vary depending on the hardware design and the power budget that is available, it may be possible to expect a range of up to 400 meters from a Bluetooth 5 connection.
Bluetooth 5 is designed with Internet-of-Things applications in mind, and the extended range that it offers will enable ubiquitous, reliable IoT connections across full-home and building and outside-the-building use cases where older Bluetooth devices are not practical, greatly opening up the potential applications for Bluetooth connectivity.
According to the executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, “Increasing operation range will enable connections to IoT devices that extend far beyond the walls of a typical home, while increasing speed, supporting faster data transfers and software updates for devices”, and “Bluetooth 5 will transform the way people experience the IoT by making it something that happens simply and seamlessly around them.”
With these technical improvements, the Bluetooth SIG aims to make Bluetooth-based IoT experiences seamless and ubiquitous, without users needing to think about range or device pairing.
As well as making the pairing process much easier for Bluetooth devices such as wireless speakers or keyboards, the significantly increased broadcast capacity in Bluetooth 5 is aimed at making beacons, location markers and other connectionless” Bluetooth services much more powerful and valuable, with the ability to transmit more, richer information as part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience.
According to the Bluetooth SIG, this will “redefine the way Bluetooth devices transmit information”, moving away from the app-paired-to-device model to a seamless and more IoT-compatible connectionless model where there is less need to download an app, pair devices together and connect the app to a device.
The increased bandwidth that Bluetooth 5 provides means that devices can be more responsive and can transfer their data faster, and increased broadcast capacity makes “connectionless” Bluetooth services like beacons, location-aware information and targeted advertising much more capable and powerful.
These improvements allow Bluetooth 5 to open up more potential Bluetooth applications and help Bluetooth to be an integral part of an accessible, interoperable IoT ecosystem.
Connectionless Bluetooth beacon technology has value in applications such as museums, galleries and other cultural and tourism institutions, providing location-aware information for navigation, allowing people to find local businesses or services near them – or for location-aware marketing or promotions.
However, excessive use of Bluetooth notifications for advertising, without requiring authentication or device pairing, may raise challenges in terms of customer acceptance and ethics and potentially creates a whole new avenue for ubiquitous spam.
Other applications such as industrial logistics and tracking inventory in warehouses are potentially valuable too – there is enormous scope for creative new applications of Bluetooth with these new capabilities.
Furthermore, these significant range and performance benefits are achieved without any significant increase in power consumption compared to existing iterations of the Bluetooth Low Energy standard with its already industry-leading power efficiency.
This means that Bluetooth 5 remains attractive, as with present Bluetooth implementations, in applications where power efficiency and long battery life is important, and the powerful new capabilities of Bluetooth 5 remain compatible with tiny, battery-operated beacons that are practical to deploy for a long time without maintenance or replacement.
By now you must realise that Bluetooth is still relevant and a feature that may be of benefit to your existing or new products. If this is of interest – there is a method of product development that is rapid and successful. Here at the LX Group we have the systems in both hardware and software to make your IoT vision a success.
We have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.
`LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.
Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.