New Bluetooth technology enhances the home, enterprise and industry

17th June 2016
Joe Bush

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced that its next release, coming late 2016 to early 2017, will be called Bluetooth 5 and will include significantly increased range, speed and broadcast messaging capacity.

Extending range will deliver robust, reliable Internet of Things (IoT) connections that make full home and building and outdoor use cases a reality. Higher speeds will send data faster and optimise responsiveness. Increasing broadcast capacity will propel the next generation of ‘connectionless’ services like beacons and location relevant information and navigation. These Bluetooth advancements open up more possibilities and enable SIG companies - now at an all-time high of 30,000 member companies – to build an accessible, interoperable IoT.

“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”

Bluetooth 5, projected for release in late 2016 to early 2017, will quadruple range and double the speed of low energy connections while increasing the capacity of connectionless data broadcasts by 800%. 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 and 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.

More than 371 million Bluetooth enabled beacons are projected to ship by 2020, according to Patrick Connolly, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. With eight times the broadcast messaging capacity, Bluetooth 5 will further propel the adoption and deployment of beacons and location-based services in the home automation, enterprise and industrial markets. In scenarios where contextual awareness like navigation and pin-point location are crucial – such as hassle-free airport navigation experiences, asset tracking of warehouse inventory, emergency response, even smart city infrastructure that helps the visually impaired be more mobile – Bluetooth 5 will send custom information that people actually find useful in that moment without connection and application barriers.

Powell added: “Today, there are 8.2 billion Bluetooth products in use, and the enhancements in Bluetooth 5 and planned future Bluetooth technical advancements mean that Bluetooth will be in more than one-third of all installed IoT devices by 2020. The drive and innovation of Bluetooth will ensure our technology continues to be the IoT solution of choice for all developers.”

The addition of the Bluetooth SIG’s 30,000th member company shows that more and more companies are choosing Bluetooth as both the technology and the organisation that will help them develop IoT products and services with the best consumer experiences and help bring those products and services to market faster and more successfully. Membership has grown over 11% since the end of 2015, now reaching a record high with its 30,000th member, Blossom Group. The start-up, which is building infrasound and low frequency noise relaxation products, is just the latest validation that companies of all sizes and verticals are joining the SIG because the organisation is working in collaboration with its members to advance the technology and make the world smarter, safer, better and more enjoyable.

“Implementing Bluetooth as our wireless technology and joining the SIG organisation was the obvious choice to ensure our products’ success,” said Luke Sanger, CEO and co-founder of Blossom Group. “Bluetooth has the ubiquity of a trusted wireless communication platform and a great history of supporting market trends and working with developers and members to produce ground breaking products and applications. We know Bluetooth will stay ahead of the game by working with its members and embracing technological advancements – from power efficiency to IoT connectivity – to push the limits of innovation.”

A recent Bluetooth event in London saw a host of companies and start-ups showcase a variety of products and solutions employing Bluetooth technology. These included:

  • BBC micro:bit – Powered by Bluetooth: Dr Joe Finney of Lancaster University is the brains behind, and primary developer of, the micro:bit run-time, a lightweight operating system for the device and the place where the micro:bit custom Bluetooth profile is implemented. Finney demonstrated a variety of Bluetooth applications made possible by the popular educational device.
  • The Wand Company – Star Trek Communicator (pictured above): Fifty years after it first appeared on the TV show, Star Trek fans can finally own a real working communicator that, thanks to Bluetooth technology, functions just like the then-fictional device seen on TV. 
  • Ubudu - World’s first beacon mesh: Mesh beacons enable a world of new consumer experiences which wouldn’t be otherwise possible with conventional beacons. Mesh beacons, which utilise capabilities in Bluetooth 4.2, turn the current generation of location broadcasting beacons into a two-way, net-connected network. This means, for instance, that a customer standing in an aisle could send a very brief message via her smartphone app to the store, asking for assistance. 
  • Silvair – Smart adaptive lighting systems: Powered by a robust Bluetooth mesh network, Silvair is an end-to-end smart lighting platform enabling manufacturers to provide an enhanced lighting experience to their customers.
  • Pitpatpet – Keeping dogs healthy: The Fitbit for your dog. With PitPat you can track your dog’s activities and fitness and discover what they’ve done while you’ve been apart.
  • Swissprime Technologies – My Lock: My Lock is an electronic locking solution for innumerable application such as doors, furniture and lockers, which allows its users to share and revoke lock keys over the air by simply making use of Bluetooth.
  • See.Sense – Intelligent Bike Light: ICON turns a typical bike into an intelligent bike – monitoring the environment, alerting for help in the event of a crash, and is specifically designed for both day and night visibility.
  • Sensible Objects – Battling beasts with Bluetooth board games: For lovers of games like Jenga, there’s a new kid on the block, and he’s sporting Bluetooth technology. Sensible Objects bring its tablet-based puzzle game made real, where small animal figures are scanned into the game via a base unit and then balanced precariously on top of each other.

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