Bluetooth 5 now available for manufacturers

Bluetooth 5 has been released (succeeding Bluetooth 4.2), with the upgrade focusing on IoT applications and improved functionality.

When compared to the previous version, improvements include eight times the capacity, two times the speed and four times the range.

Specifically, Bluetooth 5.0 has increased its data broadcasting capacity by 800 per cent, and doubled its maximum available bandwidth to 2Mbps, while retaining the low energy needs of the previous version.

According to the Bluetooth Specialist Interest Group (SIG), the increased bandwidth will enable bulk sending of metadata to improve battery life, and along with a new “connectionless mode”, bring richer content to physical web beacons, stock control, and information provision without the need for a direct connection to a server.

The connectionless mode includes features such as the support of 255-byte packages through the version’s broadcasting channel, along with the capability to offload advertising data to up to 37 channels instead of three. These features are designed to be used in Bluetooth beacons.

Furthermore, depending on the power class used, devices with Bluetooth 5 capability will be able to transmit up to 100 milliwatts of output power, providing a reach of over a kilometre. This will make it easier to cover areas such as stadiums and city centres, while also increasing Bluetooth’s capacity in outdoor applications.

The new version is backwards compatible with earlier variants beginning with 1.1, according to the SIG.

Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, said Bluetooth 5.0 holds huge potential for the future, especially in regard to the IoT.

“Bluetooth is revolutionising how people experience the IoT. Bluetooth 5 continues to drive this revolution by delivering reliable IoT connections and mobilising the adoption of beacons, which in turn will decrease connection barriers and enable a seamless IoT experience,” he said.

“This means whole-home and building coverage, as well as new use cases for outdoor, industrial and commercial applications will be a reality.