Over the past few years Bluetooth has received some major improvements for the internet of things (IoT). Bluetooth began it’s focus on IoT with Bluetooth 4.2. Some of these improvements include LE (Low Energy) data packet length extention and IP connectivity for Bluetooth Smart devices.
The LE data packet length extension increases the size of the packets available data from 27 to 251 bytes of data. This can boost data transmission speeds from 270kb/s to 800kb/s! Having faster data transmission can also benefit the devices power consumption because it will have less packets to send with the increased data packet size.
IP connectivity for Bluetooth greatly increases the connectivity of Bluetooth Smart sensors. This feature will allow users to use web infrastructure to communicate with Bluetooth Smart devices.
Recently, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced another release. Bluetooth 5 contains a number of updates that make it a much stronger candidate for IoT devices. These updates include quadrupling the range, doubling the speed, and an 800% increase to the data broadcasting.
Bluetooth 5 will increase the range up to 300 meters! This will greatly improve connectivity between devices without having to resort to other expensive radio modules such as Zigbee/Xbee. I have used XBee modules in the past for radio communication between devices and it works great, but they’re not cheap. I believe when I had purchased a few they were around $25 a piece, which is expensive when compared to Bluetooth dongles or board modules costing less than $10. The increased range will be great for communicating with devices on multiple levels of a home or even outside! I’m thinking a garage door opener may be a good project in the near future.
Doubling the speed of data transmission will be great for real-time sensor data. This will increase app/device responsiveness and deliver device updates faster.
The 800% increase to data broadcasting was the biggest eye opener for me. Devices will be able to transmit larger amounts of data continuing to decrease power consumption due to less packets being transmitted. Being able to transmit larger sets of data enables developers to create richer applications for our users. It is also moving away from the paired devices model to more of a connectionless IoT model which will hopefully allow more devices to be able to easily communicate with one another.
The release of Bluetooth 5 is aimed for late 2016 to early 2017. I have not seen anything on the compatibility with current Bluetooth 4+ devices so let’s hope there aren’t significant hardware requirement differences.
If you computer doesn’t have Bluetooth built in, you can try this adapter. I’ve used it with Ubuntu with no issues and no drivers needed.
Have you created any BT projects? I want to hear about it! Let me know in the comments below and share a link if possible and I’ll check it out.
Sources and BT Links
 – Wikipedia – Bluetooth v4.2
 – A look into Bluetooth v4.2 for Low Energy Products
 – new Bluetooth specifications enable ip connectivity and deliver industry-leading privacy and increased speed
 – Bluetooth 5 quadruples range, doubles speed, increases data broadcasting by 800%
 – Wikipedia – Bluetooth v5