Home Bluetooth SIG Unveils Better, Stronger, Faster Bluetooth

Bluetooth SIG Unveils Better, Stronger, Faster Bluetooth

One year after the Bluetooth Special Interest Group took the wraps off version 4.1 of its Bluetooth core specification, the group’s at it again with another beefy update. Meet version 4.2.

According to the team, the update improves on privacy, battery conservation and speed. It also comes with a new profile that will soon deliver on IPv6, a modern Internet protocol Bluetooth included in last year’s update. IPV6 allows Bluetooth devices to connect more directly to the Internet, but with tighter security, faster speed and more stability.

“Bluetooth 4.2 is all about continuing to make Bluetooth Smart the best solution to connect all the technology in your life—from personal sensors to your connected home,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, in a statement. Bluetooth Smart, the group’s name for a low-power profile that preserves battery, has already become widely adopted in numerous devices, from phones to Fitbits to smart TVs. 

See also: Bluetooth Wants To Talk Directly To The Internet—And Soon It Will

Version 4.2 builds on that, while giving Bluetooth some measure of future proofing.

Unpacking The New Bluetooth

Much of the online world still uses IPV4, an older and less efficient Internet protocol. But as time goes on, more of the Internet will move on to IPV6.

By supporting IPV6 now and making it available for developers to work with, the group hopes to secure its place as a key player in the emerging “Internet of Things”—the tech trend to connect all manner of objects and appliances to each other and the Internet. Bluetooth 4.2 will come with IPSP (Internet Protocol Support Profile), which enables IPV6. IPSP awaits final approval, expected later this month.

IoT has seen rampant development in recent years, as smart homes and connected TVs, kitchen appliances, cars and wearable devices leap from geeky niche circles to the mainstream market. Each of these high-growth IoT sub-categories generally support Bluetooth as a mainstay—sometimes even the sole mode of short-range wireless connectivity. The group clearly wants to keep it that way. 

Other Perks Of Bluetooth 4.2

Part of Bluetooth SIG’s latest bid involves tighter security. The new version makes it tougher for eavesdroppers to listen in on a connection without permission. 

Consider a shopping scenario where Bluetooth beacons have been installed. With version 4.2, those beacons couldn’t track your movements unless you’ve granted permission for them to connect with your device.

The group also says it has improved data transfers by boosting the capacity of the packets (or collective parcels) of data. As a result, it says, the transfers are more reliable and faster—by as much as 2.5 times over previous Bluetooth versions. These changes supposedly result in fewer data transmission errors, as well as a reduction in battery consumption. 

The end result: a better, more solid and direct connection to the Internet, with even less battery draw. Bluetooth SIG calls this “smarter Bluetooth.” If it works as promised, that would be smart indeed for numerous emerging technologies. 

More information, including technical details of the latest Bluetooth 4.2 and IPSP, are available here

Bluetooth image by Flickr user Dirk Haun

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