The latest version of Bluetooth, Bluetooth 5, is now available to manufacturers and developers and comes laden with several notable improvements.
These include eight times the capacity, two times the speed and four times the range of Bluetooth 4.2. Bluetooth 5 is designed to add a number of benefits to developers working in areas such as the "physical web" and Internet of Things (IoT).
Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, said that the new versions of the technology had huge potential for the future, particularly around the IoT.
“Bluetooth is revolutionising how people experience the IoT. Bluetooth 5 continues to drive this revolution by delivering reliable IoT connections and mobilising the adoption of beacons, which in turn will decrease connection barriers and enable a seamless IoT experience,” he said.
“This means whole-home and building coverage, as well as new use cases for outdoor, industrial, and commercial applications will be a reality. With the launch of Bluetooth 5, we continue to evolve to meet the needs of IoT developers and consumers while staying true to what Bluetooth is at its core: the global wireless standard for simple, secure, connectivity.”
Bluetooth 5 can reach over a kilometre making it much more able to cover areas such as stadiums and city centres. Yet, Woolley reminds us: "The range boost was achieved without boosting transmission, so power usage has actually decreased not increased".
However, the capabilities are only able to run at full pelt using Bluetooth 5.0 to 5.0 devices, though as ever, Bluetooth remains fully compatible right back to version 1.
The increased data capacity comes with the ability to transmit packets at 2MB/s as opposed to the previous 1MB/s, though users can roll back to 1MB/s for compatibility, however, this combination is ideal for bulk sending of metadata to improve battery life, and along with a new "connectionless mode", bring richer content to physical web beacons, stock control, information provision without the need for a direct connection to a server.
Bluetooth 5 doesn't include meshing at launch, but this is promised for all forms of Bluetooth LE next year.
For the consumer, expect to see Bluetooth 5 devices hit the market in 2-6 months. The company predicts that the average house will have 50+ Internet-connected devices by 2020, and WiFi routers can’t handle that amount of data, meaning that the opportunities for Bluetooth 5 to plug that gap are huge.
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