Bluetooth 5 standard brings in speed and range upgrades

Bluetooth 5 has launched, bringing a number of updates to the previous standard including longer range, faster speed, and larger broadcast message capacity.

First unveiled in June, the standard has been developed with Internet of Thing devices in mind and has improved interoperability with other wireless technologies. 

It has also been optimised to boost the adoption of beacons that allow businesses to deliver contextually relevant content to nearby smartphones, such as location-specific information.

“Bluetooth is revolutionising how people experience the IoT,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

“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.

“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.”

E&T spoke to Powell earlier this year, when he singled out IoT and battery-powered devices as the target market for Bluetooth, a standard which saw a 30 per cent increase in adoption in 2015 in comparison to the year before. 

Key feature updates for the new standard include four times range, two times speed, and eight times broadcast message capacity. Longer range powers whole home and building coverage, for more robust and reliable connections.

Higher speed enables more responsive, high-performance devices. Increased broadcast message size increases the data sent for improved and more context-relevant solutions.

Bluetooth 5 also includes updates that help reduce potential interference with other wireless technologies to ensure Bluetooth devices can coexist within the increasingly complex global IoT environment.

The new features have been added while maintaining its low-energy functionality, which is an important metric for many of the devices it is installed on.

ABI Research expects 48 billion internet-enabled devices to be installed by 2021, of which nearly one-third will include Bluetooth.

“The global wireless connectivity market is growing rapidly, with an anticipated 10 billion annual IC shipments by 2021,” said Andrew Zignani of ABI Research. “The introduction of Bluetooth 5 will create new opportunities in various verticals of the IoT market by reducing complexity and cost and giving manufacturers greater flexibility in targeting multiple applications and use cases.”

Consumers can expect to see products built with Bluetooth 5 within two to six months of today’s release.

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