Bluetooth 5 is out: Now will home IoT take off? – PCWorld


December 9, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Internet Of Things


Bluetooth is aiming straight for the internet of things as the fifth version of the wireless protocol arrives with twice as much speed for low-power applications.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which gains the most from the new Bluetooth 5 specification, can now go as fast as 2Mbps (bits per second) and typically can cover a whole house or a floor of a building, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) said Wednesday. Those features could help to make it the go-to network for smart homes and some enterprise sites.

The home IoT field is pretty open right now because most people haven’t started buying things like connected thermostats and door locks, ABI Research analyst Avi Greengart said. Bluetooth starts out with an advantage over its competition because it’s built into most smartphones and tablets, he said. Alternatives like ZigBee and Z-Wave often aren’t.

“It’s easy to predict that within two to three years, pretty much every phone will have Bluetooth 5,” Greengart said. “Sometimes ubiquity is the most important part of a standard.”

As the new protocol rolls out to phones, users should be able to control Bluetooth 5-equipped devices without going through a hub.

Bluetooth is in a gradual transition between two flavors of the protocol. The “classic” type is what’s been linking cellphones to cars and mice to PCs for years. BLE, a variant that uses less power, can work in small, battery-powered devices that are designed to operate for a long time without human interaction.

BLE devices now outnumber classic Bluetooth products and most chips include both modes, said Steve Hegenderfer, director of developer programs at the Bluetooth SIG.

With Bluetooth 5, BLE matches the speed of the older system, and in time, manufacturers are likely to shift to the low-power version, he said.

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