Electronic Design

Enhanced Bluetooth 4.1 Targets the Internet of Things

The Bluetooth SIGs new Version 4.1 addresses the Internet of Things opportunity.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) recently announced an updated 4.1 version of the Bluetooth  standard.  The 4.0 standard was released in July of 2010 and added the Bluetooth Smart feature which is a low power version of Bluetooth for use in medical, fitness and other consumer products.  This latest enhancement further improves the standard making in more useable by consumers and easier to work with by product developers.

Bluetooth is probably the most widely used short range wireless technology.  With its incorporation into cell phones, wireless headsets, smart watches, wireless keyboards and mice, wireless speakers, and other devices; over 2 billion devices are shipped each year.  Now with the new features in version 4.1, Bluetooth can be more easily incorporated into devices falling under the Internet of Things (IoT) category, billions more devices will be forthcoming.  Projections of 20 to 50 billion of IoT devices by 2020 have been made.  While cellular, Wi-Fi, ZigBee and other wireless technologies will be used, the new features of Bluetooth should make it a popular choice of developers.

The new features include improvements in coexistence, connections, and data transfer.  For example the latest update provides for improved coexistence between Bluetooth and the dominant cellular technology Long Term Evolution (LTE).  This ensures that Bluetooth and LTE radios can communicate to ensure transmissions are coordinated to reduce the possibility of interference.  This coordination will happen automatically.

The connection process is also improved by making the reconnection time interval flexible and variable.  This allows devices to reconnect automatically when they are in proximity of one another.  There will be less frequent manual intervention in establishing a connection.  The new version also implements a dual mode capability that, for example, permits a device like a smartphone to serve as a Bluetooth Smart hub or peripheral at the same time.  An example is a smartwatch that that uses Bluetooth for a peripheral and a hub in a smartphone. Furthermore, the new version incorporates a way to create a dedicated channel for IPv6 communications essential for any IP related application.  This will make Bluetooth a great choice for sensor IoT applications using IPv6 identifiers.

The data transfer process is also improved.  It allows bulk data transfers of data gathered during some remote activity to be more efficiently transferred when the user gets near a PC or other device.

Some additional features include support for 802.11n protocol adaption layer, accommodation of a new wide band speech codec, upgraded encryption to 128-bit AES, and several support features for 3D TV glasses that use Bluetooth.

To get further details on the new 4.1 version, check out the Bluetooth SIG at www.bluetooth.org and www.bluetooth.com.

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