Bluetooth 5 to give IoT a signal boost

Bluetooth, one of the mainstay technologies of the Internet of Things, will soon receive a major update. By late 2016 or early 2017, the 30,000-member Bluetooth Special Interest Group expects to release the fifth version of its wireless standard.

Bluetooth 5 reflects a hunger for the IoT market, especially the growing segment of “beacon” devices. The update will expand the data types available to those one-way transmissions, allowing for richer information broadcasts. It also promises major upgrades in range and speed, without sacrificing the low-energy features that define the current generation of Bluetooth products.

These improvements signal a shift in focus from Bluetooth’s traditional device-to-app pairings. Many IoT services are moving toward what the Bluetooth SIG calls a “connectionless” model, in which beacons send out data-rich that our smartphones passively collect and use to create rich, location-aware user experiences. Examples include bus stops that announce real-time schedule updates, shops that offer personalized deals to passersby, or interactive art installations that link to multimedia content and invite participation.

“Bluetooth 5 will make beacons, location awareness, and other connectionless services an even more relevant part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, in a statement.

Powell also cited analyst data that suggests Bluetooth will be included in more than a third of all IoT devices, including nearly 400 million beacons, by 2020.

Visit bluetooth.com to learn more about the SIG and follow the progress of Bluetooth 5.

Related: Bluetooth Beacon Handbook, Physical Web, Facebook “Place Tips”, IoT Device Discovery, Eddystone, Wi-Fi Aware