Bluetooth 5, the latest version of the wireless communications technology, is set to be formally introduced next week, on 16 June, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (Bluetooth SIG) has announced. The update will see it become twice as fast as the current standard, offer up to four times the operating range, and looks to usher in new location-based services.

In the age of IoT (Internet of Things) where smart, connected devices are popping up all over homes and about our persons Bluetooth is an increasingly important technology to allow them all to communicate with each other. With more devices come more applications and therefore more is being asked of Bluetooth, which is why the new standard is being introduced.

It's also the technology that has freed headphones from cables, lets your smartwatch receive data from your phone and allows you to stream music from your mobile to a wireless speaker.

Faster and further

The latest standard is expected to be twice as fast as the current Bluetooth v4.2LE, allowing for much speedier transfer of data. The Low Energy version, used by many wearables will likely see a leap in speed to 1.3mbps.

Distance is something that users will really notice with Bluetooth being able to be used over quadruple the current distance. That means users can wander up to 400m away from things like Bluetooth speakers without music dropping signal.

New location-based technology

But where things get really interesting is how Bluetooth 5 will offer far more location smarts, with its use in adoption of location-based service such as beacon technology that could ultimately help users navigate indoors and around places like shopping malls. For marketing folk these connectionless services will also mean they can serve up advertising as you walk past products or certain locations.

Mark Powell, executive director of Bluetooth SIG, said in a statement: "Bluetooth 5 will provide significant new functionality for connectionless services like location-relevant information and navigation. By adding significantly more capacity to advertising transmissions, Bluetooth 5 will further propel the adoption and deployment of beacons and location-based services to users around the world.

The bad news is, you'll won't be able to use Bluetooth 5 straight away. As is usually the case with this sort of thing, you'll need a new device with a Bluetooth 5-supporting chip inside it, which probably won't become the norm until 2017-2018.

Bluetooth SIG revealed that it was working on Bluetooth 5 in 2015, but has kept its progress on the tech under wraps since then. The group will reveal more on its latest wireless protocol and its expected impact on smart homes, automated industry and the wider IoT landscape at an event in London on 16 June.