Even after more than two decades, Bluetooth remains the most used wireless method for delivering data over short distances. By 2020, it is anticipated that 13.9 billion wireless items would be sold, with every third of those containing Bluetooth. I’d like to try to inform our readers on what the most recent Bluetooth version has to offer as the fifth iteration of the technology is soon to arrive.
What is Bluetooth 5?
The Bluetooth SIG, the organisation in charge of overseeing the Bluetooth standard, unveiled the fifth version of Bluetooth in June 2016. However, it wasn’t formally implemented until December 2016. The most recent Bluetooth version promises, among other things, quicker data transfers, greater range, and compatibility with other wireless technologies. I’ll give a brief summary of the enhancements Bluetooth 5 offers.
Bluetooth 5 vs Bluetooth 4.2: What s Improved?
Bluetooth 5 is 2x Faster
The maximum potential speed for Bluetooth 4.2, the most recent version, is 1 Mbps. A speed increase of up to 2 Mbps is promised by the most recent offering. Given that both of your devices support Bluetooth 5, you can experience faster data transmission speeds. The fact that the aforementioned speed is purely theoretical and that actual transfer rates will be a little lower is also crucial to keep in mind.
Bluetooth 5 has 4x Wider Range
With a theoretical range of around 120 metres, Bluetooth 5 can double the range of Bluetooth 4.x. The bandwidth can be reduced while maintaining the same power needs to get this larger range. The Bluetooth SIG points out that since they can now cover the entire house, providers of smart home solutions may find it particularly helpful. Remember that this range is merely theoretical and that the actual range will be somewhat lower.
Bluetooth 5 has 8x Broadcasting Messaging Capacity
Understanding Bluetooth beacons is the initial step in comprehending broadcast message capacity. Bluetooth beacons are essentially Bluetooth-powered devices that continuously broadcast a signal, which other Bluetooth receivers (like your phone, for example) can respond to with context-aware actions. No worries if you still don’t understand: Just go to our explanation about Bluetooth beacons.
By imposing a 31-byte limit on data packets, Bluetooth 4.x significantly restricted the functionality of Bluetooth beacons. Support for longer data packets—255 bytes, specifically—is included with Bluetooth 5. This keeps older beacons compatible while also dramatically improving the operation of Bluetooth beacons.
Bluetooth 5 has Better Prevention of Interference on Neighbouring Bands
The Bluetooth SIG is aware that there are many IoT-enabled devices in competition and that different wireless devices may interfere with one another. The Bluetooth SIG has increased its efforts to prevent interference on nearby 2.4 GHz and LTE bands beginning with Bluetooth 5 in order to tackle this. Interference can be automatically detected and avoided using slot availability mask.
Bluetooth 5 is Always Low-Energy
Three modules—a traditional Bluetooth, a Bluetooth high-speed module, and a Bluetooth low-energy module—were included in the initial release of Bluetooth 4 in 2010. BLE, also known as Bluetooth low-energy, was created to cut down on the amount of power that Bluetooth uses on always connected devices.
With Bluetooth 5, the Bluetooth SIG eliminates the many modules and designed the technology from the bottom up to always be low-energy. This implies that the power consumption of Bluetooth-connected devices will be greatly reduced. It’s time to put an end to battery problems!
Impact of Bluetooth 5 on Smart Home, IoT and Wearables
If it wasn’t already clear, Bluetooth 5’s faster data transfer rates and greater range are extremely advantageous for Internet of Things (IoT). The faster data transfers between devices and shorter processing times between smartphone and wearable device requests are both implied by the faster data transfers.
As was already said, the expanded range will be especially beneficial for companies offering smart home solutions, as they can now take use of the extensive coverage. Even if two devices are not immediately adjacent to one another, you can still transfer files between them (up to 120 metres, that is).
The Bluetooth beacons’ development could be greatly aided by the 8x increase in broadcast messaging capability because it makes them more potent. Additionally, improved interference identification and prevention benefits all competing wireless protocols in the nearby bands. This is absolutely essential for thriving in a hostile environment.
Will Bluetooth 5 be Backwards Compatible?
The latest Bluetooth version, which is an improvement above Bluetooth 4, is not meant to take the place of Bluetooth 4. The fifth iteration of Bluetooth will maintain compatibility with earlier versions. Although you can send and receive data between devices as usual, you’ll need Bluetooth 5 capability on both of them to take advantage of all the features.
Only Bluetooth 4.x devices will be backwards compatible with the low-energy capability. Not too shocking considering that Bluetooth 4 was the first version to have the low-energy functionality.
When Will Devices Ship With Bluetooth 5?
The Bluetooth 5 developer kit is now accessible, but it might take another four to six months before smartphones and other wireless devices adopt it as a standard. There’s a good chance that all smartphones that are released after late 2017 will have Bluetooth 5 installed. The Galaxy S8, Samsung’s flagship model for this year, is rumoured to be the first phone to support Bluetooth 5. The following iPhone (perhaps the iPhone 8) is anticipated to include Bluetooth 5 as Apple releases its iPhone in the second half of the year. You can get the Bluetooth 5 core specification if you’re a developer.
The Future Of Bluetooth
Although Bluetooth 5 has many enhancements, there are some capabilities that were left out and are anticipated to be added in subsequent releases. Below, I’ll mention a few of those:
Improved Bluetooth Audio Streaming
Bluetooth audio streaming is one crucial area where the technology hasn’t advanced significantly in Bluetooth 5.
Bluetooth Mesh Network
The Bluetooth profile known as Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) specifies how audio can be streamed via a Bluetooth connection. Several codecs are supported by A2DP by default, and it is possible for third-party businesses to add support for more codecs. We must rely on third-party proprietary audio codec compression algorithms like Qualcomm’s aptX because Bluetooth 5 doesn’t make any appreciable improvements in this area. The Bluetooth SIG has offered consolation by stating that audio advancements are in the works and you may anticipate improvements to audio streaming in the near future.
Mesh networking is a wonderful feature that Bluetooth 5 did not have. Although mesh networking is a sophisticated technology, the following explanation from the Bluetooth SIG website should suffice for us laypeople: On a Bluetooth mesh network, you have simply increased the range of both devices if you have one device within reach of the other. You can now extend the solution’s reach by continuing to add mesh nodes to the network.
Bluetooth’s limited range can be infinitely increased, so you no longer need to be concerned. Both Bluetooth 4.x and Bluetooth 5 compatibility is predicted for this technology.
The Competition: WiFi HaLow
The Bluetooth mesh network prototype is currently accessible to SIG members. Although there isn’t a set date for the public release just yet, it should be accessible as soon as all the bugs are worked out.
The WiFi alliance introduced WiFi HaLow as a direct rival to Bluetooth at CES 2016. Smart homes, wearables, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices are the focus of WiFi HaLow. It runs in the unlicensed 900 Mhz region, which offers better penetration through walls than Bluetooth, which uses the 2.4 GHz spectrum, and maintains a strong connection. WiFi HaLow is anticipated to have a range that is twice as large as existing WiFi standards. Although there’s no official announcement on when WiFi HaLow will be available for IoT devices, industry insiders say it won’t be until at least 2018.
Excited For Bluetooth 5?
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