What is Bluetooth ? | Bluetooth 5.0 and BeyondSeptember 5, 2018
In 2018, we have a lot of conveniences like Wi-Fi, Netflix and Uber, one convenience we often overlook but use daily is Bluetooth. If you own a modern car, chances are you have a Bluetooth radio/media center that you immediately connect to as you get into your car, if you have a wireless headphones, you connect to those as soon as you get out of your car, and if you have a Bluetooth speaker, you connect to it as soon as you get home. We take it for granted and use it daily, but what is Bluetooth ? and how does it work ?
For us to understand what Bluetooth is, we need to understand why it was created, what’s it’s current state and where is it going in the future.
Why was Bluetooth Created ?
Bluetooth was invented in 1994 by a Dutch electrical engineer Jaap Haartsen while working for Ericsson, he originally created it to be an alternative for a cable standard of the day that was used to connect up peripherals to computers IE Monitors, Mice and Printers, the technical name of that cable was RS-232.
Bluetooth 1.0 had a lot of issues with compatibility and required a hardware attachment to complete a connection. The first mobile phone with Bluetooth was released in 2000 and the first Bluetooth headphones were released in 2004. It is now the standard when it comes to connecting device’s locally wirelessly.
What is the Current State of Bluetooth ?
Fast forward to 2018 and nearly 4 billion device’s will ship with Bluetooth capability. Like I said in my opening statement, it’s in your cars, in you phones and in your homes. The fifth version of Bluetooth was released in December 2016, Bluetooth 5.0 is the latest and greatest when compared to previous versions and like previous versions, Bluetooth 5.0 is backwards compatible. The first device’s that were released with 5.0 were iPhone 8 and X and the Samsung Galaxy S8.
The latest version comes with a number of improvements; Bluetooth low energy for peripherals, dual audio and more speed, distance and throughput.
In the past, Bluetooth enabled device’s such as headphones, smart watches and wireless speakers would drain your phones battery very quickly using the old standard. Bluetooth Low Energy was actually added to the 4.0 update but those peripherals still weren’t compatible with the 4.0 update so they had to revert back to the old power hungry standard. Today, if you have a iPhone X and brand new Bluetooth Headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series 2) , chances are they are communicating via Bluetooth Low Energy.
Dual Audio is pretty self explanatory, you can stream audio to 2 Bluetooth devices simultaneously, IE 2 Bluetooth Speakers, 2 Bluetooth Headphones, 1 Bluetooth Speaker and 1 Bluetooth Headphone. My perfect examples of this would be, using this feature on an airplane with your partner, simultaneously streaming audio to 2 separate Bluetooth headphones from one source or simultaneously streaming audio to 2 separate Bluetooth speakers.
The transfer speeds have increased to 48mbps, almost double 4.0. Distance has also increased to 300 meters, 4 times as far as the previous version. Only drawback to this improvement is that you need 2 Bluetooth 5.0 device’s to take full advantage of these improvements.
The Future of Bluetooth
In todays world Bluetooth is an integral part of our day to day lives, if you look at the market and trends you will notice more and more device’s are being released with Bluetooth as standard. The future of Bluetooth is driven by the consumer and convenience. My prediction for the future of Bluetooth is this, obviously higher transfer speeds and distance but I think it will reach a level of low energy consumption that barely makes a dent on the device’s battery that it is being used on.
The Internet of Things will also play a big factor in the application of Bluetooth, The Internet of Things is essentially the connectivity/network between device’s that you wouldn’t normally consider smart, IE Fridge, Dishwasher, Washing Machine, Dryer, Lights, Air conditioning, Car etc.
I believe the IoT will heavily rely on Bluetooth technology to extend out networks and the internet to device’s that traditionally lacked connectivity, the IoT looks like it will be in 30 Billion device’s by 2020. With this massive surge in the market, im sure a competitor to Bluetooth connectivity will arise, in the meantime, Bluetooth will remain in our lives for years to come.
What do you think will replace Bluetooth ? Comment below and let me know.