The latest numbered update to Bluetooth technology – Bluetooth 5 – has officially been adopted by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) with significant improvements to range, speed and broadcast message capacity. This official adoption clears the way for device makers to integrate the much improved tech into everything from phones and PCs to werables and smart home equipment.
The group expects Bluetooth 5-equipped products to hit the market in the next 2 to 6 months, or right around when the next wave of smartphones is likely to arrive.
In terms of raw performance, you can expect up to four times the range, twice the speed and about eight times the amount of data in broadcast messages. With an ever growing array of data-heavy smart home devices emerging on the market, Bluetooth 5 should be powerful enough to connect an entire home. While this will be a big boost to the smart home market, smartwatches will also see improvement as one of the biggest limitations to devices like the Apple Watch is a slow connection to phones.
The only area that doesn't seem like it's been improved is audio. Bluetooth 5's improved range and speed will likely help with those irritating instances of dropped audio, you won't be seeing improvements to compression, latency and power use until 2018. The new format is primarily about modernising Bluetooth's range and speed. Future efforts will build on this platform.
Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG said: "Bluetooth is revolutionising 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."