The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) on Thursday officially announced the details of Bluetooth 5, the next version of its wireless hardware standard. The group says the new version will offer “significantly increased range, speed, and broadcast messaging capacity.”
Bluetooth 5, projected for release in late 2016 to early 2017, will quadruple range and double speed of low energy connections while increasing the capacity of connectionless data broadcasts by 800 percent. It achieves all this alongside its industry-leading power performance. With the major boost in broadcast messaging capacity, the data being transferred will be richer, more intelligent. This will redefine the way Bluetooth devices transmit information, moving away from the app-paired-to-device model to a connectionless IoT where there is less need to download an app or connect the app to a device.
“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”
Bluetooth 5’s increased messaging capacity is expected to further encourage the adoption and deployment of beacons and location-based services in the home automation, enterprise, and industrial markets. The new standard will make possible improved indoor navigation information systems, asset tracking in warehouses, even smart city infrastructure to aid the differently abled.
No mention in the announcement as to whether existing devices will be able to update to Bluetooth 5 via a firmware update, or if it will require new hardware. While Bluetooth 1, 2, and 3 were all not updateable via software, Bluetooth 4.0 devices could be upgraded to Bluetooth 4.1 via a software patch.
Apple added Bluetooth 4.2 support to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Air 2 in October of last year.