Wireless connectivity has entered the next generation with the arrival of Bluetooth 5, which brings with it longer range, faster speeds and a wider range of interoperability with the flood of 'smart' internet of things (IoT) devices arriving on the market.
Bluetooth 5 – which takes over from the current Bluetooth 4.2 version, is poised to usher in a new age of beacon technology capable of providing indoor mapping services for navigating shopping malls and other venues. Not only will this help shoppers find their way around in-store, but it will also enable marketers to serve up location-or context-specific adverts based on where the customer is standing.
What is Bluetooth 5?
The latest version of Bluetooth offers four times the range, double the speed and eight times the broadcast message capacity of the previous version, which will allow for wider and more reliable connections particularly within smart home applications – you'll be able to wander further away from your Bluetooth speaker without your phone losing the connection and the music cutting out, for example.
Specifically, Bluetooth 5 increases speed from 1Mbps to 2Mbps without consuming additional energy. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (Bluetooth SIG) said this would provide more responsive connections for "critical scenarios" where speed is paramount, such as in medical devices and security systems.
At the same time, Bluetooth 5 is more capable of co-existing with wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and LTE and is also more flexible, in that it can be developed around the needs of the consumer and can be adjusted in terms of range, speed and security depending on the deployment scenario.
Of course, to take advantage of the new tech you'll need a phone packing a Bluetooth 5-supporting chip inside. The good news is that you can expect to see products built with Bluetooth 5 within two to six months, according to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).
Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, said: "Bluetooth is revolutionising how people experience the IoT. 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."