What Does Bluetooth 5 Mean for IoT?

Sept. 19, 2016
Bluetooth 5’s higher speeds will also send data faster and optimize responsiveness, and increasing broadcast capacity will propel the next generation of “connectionless” services.
In June, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) 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. This new standard is also expected to deliver robust, reliable Internet of Things (IoT) connections that make full-home and building and outdoor use cases a reality. (By definition, IoT refers to the growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for Internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.)

According to SIG, Bluetooth 5’s higher speeds will also send data faster and optimize responsiveness, and increasing broadcast capacity will propel the next generation of “connectionless” services (e.g., beacons, location-relevant information, and navigation). “These Bluetooth advancements open up more possibilities and enable SIG companies to build an accessible, interoperable IoT,” SIG announced.

Focusing on the intersection of Bluetooth 5 and IoT, industry expert Murray Slovick discussed the global wireless communication’s status in the market and helps users understand the implications of the new standard in TTI’s Bluetooth Takes on the Internet of Things. Here are some of the expected capabilities of Bluetooth 5 and Slovick’s take on their ultimate impact on the IoT:

Expanded range. Bluetooth 5 will offer four times the range of its predecessors. This extended range means that Bluetooth will now be able to replace WiFi as a communication technology for many IoT applications, according to Slovick. “Extending range will make full-home, building, and outdoor use cases a reality for Bluetooth,” he writes.

Faster Speed. Bluetooth 5 will feature 2X the transmission speed of Bluetooth version 4.2, thus allowing users to send and receive data much more quickly. This effectively reduces the power consumption by up to half,” Slovick writes, “which, in turn, will increase the time that the device can be used for before recharging.”

Higher broadcast capacity. Bluetooth 5 will boast an 800% increase in data broadcasting capacity. This major boost in broadcast messaging capacity will redefine the way Bluetooth devices transmit information, moving to a scenario that the Bluetooth SIG unfortunately calls a “connectionless” IoT, according to Slovick. This will result in less need to download an app or connect the app to another device.  

Less need to “pair” devices. According to Slovick, the Bluetooth SIG is claiming Bluetooth 5 will allow IoT devices like smart watches to move away from the present paired app-device model and operate independently in their own right. “That means with Bluetooth 5 you will not always have to do the handshake procedure (pairing) to link to a data source before you are authorized to get the data you want,” he writes.

On a final note, Slovick expects Bluetooth 5 laptops, tablets, and phones to start appearing at some point in 2017, with accessories taking longer to emerge “as even high-end wireless headphones tend to still be using Bluetooth v.2.1.”

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