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Faster, Bigger Bluetooth 5 Could Be a Boon for the IoT

The next generation of the wireless technology will offer twice the speed, four times the range and 800 percent more capacity of the current standard.

Internet of things

The next version of the Bluetooth wireless connectivity standard will be faster, have an increased range and feature greater broadcast messaging capacity, all of which will be a boon to the Internet of things.

Officials with the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) said Bluetooth 5, which will come later this year or in early 2017 and will be supported by more than 30,000 SIG companies, will make the Internet of things (IoT) something that happens more simply and easily for users.

"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," Bluetooth SIG Executive Director Mark Powell said in a statement. "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."

According to SIG officials, Bluetooth 5 will quadruple the range and double the speed of low-energy connections and increase the capacity of connectionless data broadcasts by 800 percent. The jump in broadcast messaging capacity will mean that the data being transferred will be richer and more intelligent than what can be run via Bluetooth now.

That will help change the way Bluetooth devices transmit information, they said. Now it's primarily done through apps that are paired with the devices. With Bluetooth 5, there will be less need to download an app or to connect that app to a device, creating a more "connectionless IoT," officials said. Bluetooth will be able to be used in full-home, office and outdoor scenarios, and the increased broadcast capacity will help accelerate the development of next-generation beacons and location-based services. ABI Research analysts expect more than 371 million Bluetooth-enabled beacons will ship by 2020.

Powell said there are 8.2 billion Bluetooth products in use worldwide today and that Bluetooth will be installed in more than a third of all IoT devices by 2020.

Bluetooth 5 will enable the technology to play a more significant role in the fast-growing IoT space. Though estimates vary, most vendors and industry analysts expect the number of connected sensors, devices and systems to grow quickly over the next few years. Both Cisco Systems and Intel have projected that by 2020 there will be more than 50 billion connected systems worldwide.