The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced on Thursday Bluetooth 4.1, which prepares Bluetooth devices for the Internet of Things (IoT) by laying the groundwork for IP-based connections, extending Bluetooth technology's role as the essential wireless link for the IoT. The new spec also promises better connectivity and larger data transfers.
"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. "We updated the Bluetooth specification to address this projected growth, making changes to give developers more control in assigning a role to their product, limiting interference with other wireless technologies, and allowing Bluetooth Smart products to exchange data faster and maintain connections with less manual intervention."
The Bluetooth 4.1 release brings better cooperation between LTE radios and Bluetooth devices to avoid interference. The release also promises better connections, as reconnection time intervals will be more flexible and variable, thus devices can reconnect automatically when they are in proximity of one another. As an example, the consumer can leave the room and upon returning, two recently used devices reconnect without user intervention.
Bluetooth 4.1 also supports bulk data transfer. As an example, sensors that gathered data during a run, bike ride or swim can transfer that data more efficiently when the consumer returns home. As previously mentioned, Bluetooth 4.1 lays the groundwork for future IP-based connections between devices, similar to the way a router connects to multiple Wi-Fi enabled devices. The new spec adds a standardized way to create a dedicated channel, which could be used for IPv6 communications in the Core Specification.
"With the rapid market adoption of Bluetooth Smart and the coming addition of IP connectivity, all signs point to Bluetooth as a fundamental wireless link in the Internet of Things," reads the press release. "These updates make it possible for Bluetooth Smart sensors to also use IPv6, giving developers and OEMs the flexibility they need to ensure connectivity and compatibility."
This update is the first major release of the Bluetooth spec since 2010, when the Bluetooth SIG announces version 4.0, or Bluetooth Smart. A spokesperson told PC World that several chip companies are expected to announce Bluetooth 4.1-compatible solutions as soon as qualifications are enabled on December 10. Meanwhile, Bluetooth radios already on the market can be upgraded to 4.1 by a mere over-the-air software update.
"These updates reflect the demand we see in the market," added Suke Jawanda. "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."