Which applications benefit most from Bluetooth 5 features?

Feb 1, 2017
 

Bluetooth 5
Image from: http://www.techsoldiers.net/uploads/8/6/6/4/86646954/bluetooth-51_orig.jpg

Compared to Bluetooth 4.2, Bluetooth 5 offers twice the data rate, four times the range and eight times the broadcast capability. So which applications will benefit most from these improvements?

At the official Bluetooth 5 adoption Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG had the following to say: “Bluetooth is revolutionizing how people experience the IoT. Bluetooth 5 continues to drive this revolution by delivering reliable IoT connections and mobilizing the adoption of beacons, which in turn will decrease connection barriers and enable a seamless IoT experience.”

"This means whole-home and building coverage, as well as new use cases for outdoor, industrial, and commercial applications will be a reality. With the launch of Bluetooth 5, we continue to evolve to meet the needs of IoT developers and consumers while staying true to what Bluetooth is at its core: the global wireless standard for simple, secure, connectivity."

From this we can see that beacons are given an important place in the new standard. Whole-home and building coverage will be an advantage for home automation systems, and wearables will also get a boost. Let’s unpack each of these applications a bit to see how they benefit from Bluetooth 5 features.

Beacons

With eight times the broadcast capability of Bluetooth 4.2, Bluetooth 5 beacons can send more information with every broadcast. This creates more possibilities for connectionless services like beacons and navigation which rely on broadcast messages. Currently many beacons function by sending a URL to the user’s device, which then uses its internet connection to access the webpage associated with the URL. The increased data payload means that beacons will be able to send more information in the broadcast message itself, without the user’s device requiring a pre-installed app or internet connection. This is especially useful indoors where the user’s mobile device may not have an internet connection.

Home automation

Bluetooth 5 extends the range to 4 times that of previous standards. This means Bluetooth 5 can finally challenge WiFi as the main communication standard throughout the home. If you have a smart thermostat at home, it will now be able to communicate directly with your phone from anywhere in the house. It may still be a bit of an uphill battle for home automation devices to switch completely to Bluetooth. That’s because WiFi is the main standard for providing an internet connection to the home, so routers will have to get Bluetooth if they are to provide an internet connection via Bluetooth to home automation devices. In future we may have a situation where the home router provides two main connections to the internet, high speed via WiFi and low speed via Bluetooth.

Wearables

Bluetooth Smart has done a lot to enable wearables such as fitness trackers, smartwatches and sleep monitors. Wearables will benefit from the new Bluetooth 5 standard, taking advantage of the increased data rate and range. We all know it’s important for wearables to make the most of their battery life, and the increased data rate of Bluetooth 5 will allow just that. Wearable devices typically operate with their Bluetooth circuit in a low power sleep mode. When the need arises they quickly send or receive data and then go to sleep again to save power. With the data rate of Bluetooth 5 increased to 2Mbps it will take much less time to send the data thereby saving power. The other benefit of the increased data rate is that sending large files needed for device software updates will be much faster.

Lastly, with four times the range it will no longer be necessary for a wearable device paired to your phone to be in the same room as your phone to receive alerts. You can finally leave your phone in another room, and know that your smartwatch will still show messages and call alerts.

Check out the new Nordic nRF52840 development kit for Bluetooth 5.

If you need any assitance with Bluetooth for your design all you have to do is give us a call at 866-506-8829, email us or start a live chat. We'll be glad to get you going in the right direction. 



Written By: Cobus Heukelman

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