Bluetooth 5 is here, offering a huge jump in speed and range for devices


Bluetooth 5 is finally ready for release to developers and manufacturers — and your smart home might benefit more than your smartwatch.

The latest version of the wireless technology, which was announced in June 2016, still links a host of different products together, but the days of it being used solely for speakers or smartwatches are gone. Bluetooth 5 focuses on range, bandwidth, and speed, making it suitable for controlling and managing smart home devices and systems, as well as our growing smart cities.

The headline benefits of Bluetooth 5 are a four-fold increase in range, twice the speed to 2Mbps, and eight times the capacity for sending data, all compared to Bluetooth 4.2. These features, along with Bluetooth’s low power consumption and its ubiquitousness, makes it ideal for controlling smart homes and all the products connected to them. The group behind the Bluetooth specification has been promoting the idea of its technology revolutionizing smart homes for some time, and this is an important step towards that goal.

More: Bluetooth wants to control your smart home

Increasing the range by such a vast amount means Bluetooth can more easily cover an entire house, faster speeds ensures less waiting around, and crucially when combined with the 800 percent increase in message capacity, will help deliver more data. Better quality Bluetooth audio, faster and more reliable over-the-air firmware updates, and more informative Bluetooth beacon information are just some of the benefits promised with Bluetooth 5.

Dig deeper into Bluetooth 5, and it promises less interference caused by other, closely matched, bandwidths, plus the chance for developers to manage the individual aspects of the connection. A smartwatch doesn’t require a massive range, but speed is really important, for example; but your connected lightbulb will probably benefit from the opposite. Working with Bluetooth this way means more specially tailored apps and hardware, that manage smartphone power effectively.

When will Bluetooth 5 arrive? Devices with it are expected to be here starting early 2017, but we’re warned the wait could be up to six months from now. Bluetooth 5 doesn’t replace Bluetooth 4.2, 4.1, or 4.0, it simply adds functionality to the core Bluetooth technology, and is backward compatible.

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