Countdown to Bluetooth 5.0

Countdown to Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth 5.0 has been touted as the future of the IoT. Now that Bluetooth 5.0 is finally released, we can begin the countdown to a better, more connected world!

IoT fans and connected businesses have been eagerly awaiting the release of Bluetooth 5.0 for much of this year. The standard connectivity mode for more than 8 billion devices around the world and the cornerstone of the IoT has been promising a major upgrade–and it is finally delivering:

Bluetooth SIG just released the Bluetooth 5.0 documentation.

This new protocol will redefine the way machines communicate, and even Bluetooth knows this is a big deal for beacon technology.

“We are taking beacons to the next level, so you can have a much richer, deeper, and much more involved experience with beacons, compared to what what was possible before,” Steve Hegenderfer, director of developer programs at Bluetooth SIG told IoT Podcast.

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“[Beacons are] actually one of the things that excites me most about Bluetooth 5.0. Beacons today provide really interesting, rich, and immersive experiences for people to connect the physical and digital worlds together,” Hegenderfer continued.

What’s new

As with advances in previous versions, every aspect of Bluetooth performance is getting a boost, but Bluetooth 5.0 will open the door to entirely new applications driven by the IoT. The new technical specs are impressive and a significant improvement on current standards. Compared to its predecessor, Bluetooth 5.0 boasts:

  • 4x range
  • 2x speed
  • 800% more broadcast messaging capacity

That’s four times the current reach as well as faster and bigger data transfers. The power to send and receive much more data, more quickly, and over a greater distance has obvious implications for proximity technology. Each one of these parameters will make existing apps better and new apps possible. You think beacons are amazing now? Just wait until they’re powered by Bluetooth 5.0.

Even though you can’t hold a 5.0 device in your hand right now, this release is yet another reminder that the IoT is gradually acquiring the support and infrastructure it needs to dramatically expand its functionality. Bluetooth 5.0 means that the gap between drawing board ideas and actual implementation has narrowed considerably. Now that products can finally be implemented with Bluetooth 5.0, the race is on, and it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next.

What does this update mean? Bluetooth 5.0 is promising more than enough excitement for one day:

  1. Quadruple range to will deliver more robust, reliable connections.
  2. Doubled speed alongside low-power consumption will provide faster data transfers.
  3. Increased message capacity will let Bluetooth transmit richer, more intelligent data.

With the growth of overlapping wireless technologies, it’s also important that standards don’t interrupt one another. That’s why the new Bluetooth 5.0 standard has been refined to reduce interference. The IoT is incredibly complex and filled with different technologies all talking at once–so it will be vital that modern standards are created that minimize interference.

Commonly asked questions about Bluetooth 5.0

With such a big change, Bluetooth SIG realized there would be lots of questions. Head over here to find their FAQ or find some of the most important tidbits below:

  • Bluetooth 5.0 is NOT replacing Bluetooth 4.2, 4.1 or 4.0. It is extending the functionality provided by previous versions of the Bluetooth Core Specification.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 WILL include Bluetooth with low energy functionality.
  • There are NO mandatory features that need to be implemented to claim compliance to Bluetooth 5.0 (just like Bluetooth 4.2).

 

What fields will this impact?
Many sources suggest that this new standard will expand possibilities within the smart home market. But that’s not all. While that is the use case many consumers will be excited by, businesses have much more to get excited about. This extended functionality, greater range, speed, and capacity will redefine expectations about Bluetooth-based RTLS systems.

We expect to see Bluetooth 5.0 make a difference in every vertical in which it’s implemented including:

  • manufacturing
  • healthcare
  • logistics
  • and even retail!

Hegenderfer also notes the importance of Bluetooth 5.0 to use cases beyond the typical retail store push notification:

“Think of asset tracking in process management and transportation and logistics: where you want to be able to track an asset from place A to place B in relation to other things on your shop floor, or in your office building or in your factory. Beacons are a perfect solution for these types of problems and these types of scenarios, so I really believe beacons will absolutely explode.“

What’s next?

47 team members from 22 companies came together to power up this incredible new standard, but the work is far from done. Devices aren’t using Bluetooth 5.0–yet (at least, we assume). It will take time for businesses to turn this standard into real-world products and solutions. But, it shouldn’t be long…

Within hours of Bluetooth 5.0’s launch, we were already receiving mail from excited customers talking about the next chapter for beacons. This is because the real winners with Bluetooth 5.0 will be everyone interested in IoT, and that includes enterprise.

Bluetooth continues to grow
ABI predicts that Bluetooth will be featured in one-third of all internet-enabled devices around the globe by 2020. For business, this is a huge opportunity. Bluetooth 5.0 will continue to work with existing technologies like WiFi and LTE to deliver unprecedented capabilities to the enterprise sector. That is something to get excited about.

“Bluetooth 5.0 brings the most successful consumer standard to enterprise,” explains Szymon Niemczura, Kontakt.io CEO. “The cost, range, and universal adoption rates create vast possibilities for people and asset positioning.” 

Bluetooth 5.0 will be the foundation of the IoT

A wireless connection that’s twice as fast, carries eight times the data and reaches four times further than current capabilities is precisely what IoT environments need to flourish and grow. The better the Bluetooth, the better the proximity solutions that depend on it.

We can’t wait to see what the new combination of speed, range and capacity will do to make the list of amazing applications for beacons even longer. Bring on Bluetooth 5.0!

Find the Bluetooth 5.0 release information here!

Are you excited about Bluetooth 5.0? Let us know what you think it means for beacons and the IoT!

Victoria Homsy - Photo
  • Victoria Homsy

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