Bluetooth has become a key feature of billions of connected devices as a wireless way to transmit data over short distances. That’s why smartphone makers are getting rid of the headphone jack, and millions of dollars have sprung up new businesses leveraging this technology-for example, companies selling small Bluetooth trackers to help you find lost items.
The bluetouth special interest group (SIG), a non-profit organization that oversees the development of the Bluetooth standard since 1998, has revealed more details about a particularly interesting new feature in the next generation of Bluetooth.
With Bluetooth 5.1 (now available to developers), companies will be able to integrate new “directional” features into Bluetooth-enabled products. In fact, Bluetooth can be used for short-range-based services, just like an object tracker-as long as you are within range, you can find your item by activating a little alert sound and then following your ears. Although Bluetooth is often used as part of other location-based services, including BLE beacons in indoor positioning systems (IPS), it is not really as accurate as GPS to provide accurate location. This technology is more to determine that two Bluetooth devices are in close proximity, and roughly calculate the distance between them.
However, if direction finding technology is integrated into it, the smartphone can pinpoint the location of another object that supports Bluetooth 5.1, instead of within a few meters.
This is a potential game changer for how hardware and software developers can provide location services. In addition to consumer object trackers, it can also be used in many industrial settings, such as helping companies locate specific items on shelves.
“Positioning services is one of the fastest-growing solutions in Bluetooth technology and is expected to reach more than 400 million products per year by 2022,” said Mark Powell, executive director of Bluetooth SIG, in a press release. “This is a huge traction, and the Bluetooth community continues to seek to further develop this market through technology enhancements to better meet market demand, proving the community’s commitment to driving innovation and enriching the technology experience for global users.”
With the advent of Bluetooth 5.0 in 2016, several improvements have appeared, including faster data transmission and longer range. In addition, the upgrade means that wireless headsets can now communicate via more energy-efficient Bluetooth low energy, which means longer battery life. With the advent of Bluetooth 5.1, we will soon see improved indoor navigation, making it easier for people to find their way in supermarkets, airports, museums and even cities.
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