Why you should anticipate Bluetooth 5

Silvia Pichler, 
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A new era

Since its release in 2009, the Bluetooth 4 series has enriched the mobile world with many ground breaking features, including Bluetooth Low Energy. This is what enabled the low-cost battery-operated Beacons, which are a corner stone in Indoor Navigation.

Mark Powell, Executive Director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), announced the launch of the Bluetooth 5 standard, which is scheduled for this week. We gathered the 4 most important changes and improvements and get to the heart of what these could mean to the Indoor Navigation industry.

What you notice straight away is that the new naming of the upcoming release does completely without any additional knickknacks like “smart” or “.0”, and instead focuses on the essential. This minimalistic approach is supposed to serve as a simplification for marketing and to signal major technology updates to both consumer and market.

But, leaving the marketing perspective aside, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

These are the technological key innovations Bluetooth 5 holds for us:

  • Significantly improved signal range
  • Improved speed
  • Increased connectivity for Bluetooth devices
  • Added capacity to advertising transmissions

 

Benefits for IoT and Indoor Navigation

According to Powell, Bluetooth 5 is supposed to quadruple the speed and double the signal range of Low Energy transmissions, which equals a 200m range and 4Mbit/s. What is more, corresponding to the motto “Unthinkably connected”, increased connectivity for Bluetooth devices will be provided. Wireless peripherals for smartphones could benefit from this, f.ex. turning headphones into wireless accessories. More and more new kinds of devices will then be able to act as Beacons, making it easier to implement Indoor Navigation systems as well.

Since Beacons are using the advertising package to broadcast information, they also benefit from its enhanced capacity, thus being able to send out much more information than before. If Apple decides to step up their game as well, updating the iBeacon standard, Beacons may provide and transmit much more information than they currently do and could therefore be used in more diverse ways. Due to increased capacity for advertising transmissions, the adoption rate for Beacons as well as location based services may experience new heights.

When mobile devices supporting Bluetooth 5 will be launched, remains unknown at this point in time.

TLDR:

To sum up, the Bluetooth 5 standard will be introduced to the public in more detail this Thursday, June 16th. It will provide increased signal range, speed and connectivity for Bluetooth devices. This opens up for new uses of Bluetooth, and with it, new opportunities for Beacon based Indoor Localization.

Quick update from our Research team

These are the type of announcement Research lives for. It is as if a new toy just got released and after all the speculation, they can start dreaming about what can be achieved with it.

The first opinion

This is a game changer for IoT devices and that will likely lead to more advanced beacons.
Increased prevalence of bluetooth means more opportunity for indoor localization solutions, which is great for the entire industry.
Better beacons also means new methods to further improve our positioning, something that has the research team buzzing.
Finally, correctly used, the longer range will be very interesting and present interesting use cases.

Thomas Burgess Head of Research at indoo.rs