Bluetooth is an all-but-required technology for any modern smart device. It enables you to do things like collect low-powered IoT devices to smartphones, tablets, and even desktop systems. However, even a more modern Bluetooth v4.2 connection has limitations on both range and bandwidth making it a less appealing technology for IoT devices that need both range and the capability of sending and receiving large amounts of data.

That is, until now. Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced the first major update to the Bluetooth standard since 2009, and this update promises double the speed and quadruple the range with the same low power consumption that engineers have come to rely on for modern, low-powered IoT applications.

“Bluetooth 5 will transform the way people experience the IoT by making it something that happens simply and seamlessly around them,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “Increasing operation range will enable connections to IoT devices that extend far beyond the walls of a typical home, while increasing speed supports faster data transfers and software updates for devices. And now with the ability to broadcast a much richer set of information, Bluetooth 5 will make beacons, location awareness, and other connectionless services an even more relevant part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience”

One of the clear advantages of Bluetooth – especially as it relates to modern Bluetooth applications – is that it is naturally low powered. A device with tiny batteries can operate as a Bluetooth transmitter/receiver for a long time. This isn’t the case with Wi-Fi where much more energy is required to maintain a connection. This is especially useful when considering just how many IoT devices could be in the smart home of the future.

Bluetooth improves range and bandwidth

Bluetooth 5 also increases the ability for location awareness to play a role in these solutions. You could, for example, walk around your home and have your smartphone continually update your location with your home’s beacon. Then, that information is shared with various IoT devices enable all sorts of interesting things to happen. For example, you could have the blinds in your living room open as you walk in, or the music you had playing in your home office come on in your kitchen when you grab a snack.

Its improvements in range and bandwidth are huge improvements. If there is one thing Bluetooth headphone users know all too well, it’s that your audio will cut out if you wander a bit too far away from the device it’s connected to.

In any case, this is a much-needed boost to what has been an aging technology. Now, it’s up to engineers and developers to find new and interesting ways to put it to good use.