Feeling Blue? Bluetooth 4.1 empowers devs with new IoT capabilities

By: richard

May 11, 2015


Uncategorized -

We’re only just getting used to grips with Bluetooth 4, and we’ve already got an iterative update announced today by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) which adds a whole host of useful additions to the widely-used wireless specification; preparing for an influx of new devices.

Most of this preparation is for handling the “Internet of Things” renaissance; a brand-new breed of connected devices which can communicate with each other, and the end-user.

Back in July 2010, the first-step was released towards this in the form of ‘Bluetooth Smart’ alongside 4.0; an intelligent, low-energy technology which increases the feasibility of launching devices on mass scale.  The update today will build upon that with increased co-existence support for LTE, bulk data exchange rates, and aid developer innovation by allowing devices to support multiple roles simultaneously. Also being added is the groundwork for IP-based connections.

“Bluetooth Smart technology put us on a rocket ship of growth, with Bluetooth annual product shipment projections skyrocketing to more than 4.5 billion in the next five years,” said Suke Jawanda, Bluetooth SIG CMO.

He continues: “These updates reflect the demand we see in the market. We will continue to sculpt Bluetooth wireless technology to extend its critical role in enabling the Internet of Things and ensure it is the very best solution for OEMs, developers and, ultimately, consumers.”

The press release sent out today highlights upon three key areas; coexistence, better connections, and improved data transfer.

On the coexistence-front; Bluetooth 4.1 will play nicer with other technologies including LTE and Wi-Fi. Bluetooth and LTE radios can communicate in order to ensure transmissions are coordinated and therefore reduce the possibility of near-band interference.

In terms of better connections; the focus is upon more control. A key highlight here is the ability for manufacturers to alter the reconnection time. As highlighted in the release, “this improves the consumer experience by allowing devices to reconnect automatically when they are in proximity of one another.”

Improved data transfer arrives through the ability for “bulk data transfer” – vastly improving the capabilities of sensors which gather information.

Of course all this extra power is near-meaningless without empowering developers. A new environment has been released alongside 4.1 which provides product and application developers the ability to create products which can take on multiple roles. With this capability, a single device can act as both a Bluetooth Smart peripheral and a Bluetooth Smart Ready hub at the same time.

Do you think the additions made to Bluetooth 4.1 will be useful moving forward?