Thursday, June 16, 2016

What is Bluetooth 5 and What Will it Do For You?

 For many users out there Bluetooth is a part of your every day lives. From wireless to keyboards and mice to connecting your phone to devices like your car, hands-free headsets or wireless speakers, or for the newest IoT devices like smart refrigerators. Even though most of us use it every day most don't know that the Bluetooth standard is ever changing and evolving!

Today the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has taken the Bluetooth standard to all new heights when they formally unveiled Bluetooth 5, the newest iteration of this widely used technology.

Bluetooth 5, projected for release in late 2016 to early 2017, will quadruple range and double speed of low energy connections while increasing the capacity of connectionless data broadcasts by 800 percent. It achieves all this alongside its industry-leading power performance. With the major boost in broadcast messaging capacity, the data being transferred will be richer, more intelligent. This will redefine the way Bluetooth devices transmit information, moving away from the app-paired-to-device model to a connectionless IoT where there is less need to download an app or connect the app to a device.

“Bluetooth 5 will transform the way people experience the IoT by making it something that happens simply and seamlessly around them,” said Mark Powell, 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 supports faster data transfers and software updates for devices. And now with the ability to broadcast a much richer set of information, Bluetooth 5 will make beacons, location awareness, and other connectionless services an even more relevant part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience”

What the new Bluetooth standard will me for you!

While the major benefits of Bluetooth 5.0 seem pretty obvious it may be a few of the lesser obvious features and benefits that will mean the most to you. First though let's get the obvious out of the way!

Faster more efficient data connections and greater range means your devices will be able to transfer more information back and forth quicker and easier all while being able to maintain more connections and at greater distances. So for instance you can have your phone connected to a Bluetooth speaker, walk throughout the house while sending data to your smartwatch or other devices and neither should slow down, stutter or drop their connection.

The current range of low power Bluetooth 4 devices is limited to about 30ft while high power devices tops out about 300ft, with Bluetooth 5 we could theoretically see that boosted to about 120ft for low power and 1000ft for high power devices.

The lesser obvious benefit will be one that will help almost all current Bluetooth users that have ever had issues pairing their devices (and haven't we all had that issue!). Bluetooth 5.0 will offer connectionless data transfers. Instead of automatically requesting to pair with a device, Bluetooth 5.0 will be smart enough to analyze the type of connection required to transmit the information.

This adds a second benefit as it is expected that Bluetooth 5 will further propel the adoption and deployment of beacons and location-based services in the home automation, enterprise, and industrial markets. These ‘beacons’ will be physically placed Bluetooth hubs that will give smart devices a better understanding of their surroundings. Bluetooth 5 connected devices will send custom information people actually find useful in that moment without connection and application barriers.

As mentioned Bluetooth 5 won’t actually hit the market until late 2016 or early 2017, and while the new hardware will be backwards compatible with your older devices you'll likely need all new hardware to take full advantage of all the benefits. Either way it looks like we’ve still got a little bit of waiting to do before we actually get our hands on this tech and get to see what cool things companies dream up to do with it!

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