Bluetooth 4.2

Bluetooth is gaining a lot of traction.
The main breakthrough came last year with the wide adoption of Bluetooth low energy or BLE.
It makes wearables viable in that the range is a lot (lot) better and the battery life is a lot (lot) better.

In other words, it is a low power way to connect things to things.
It’s popping up ‘everywhere’, wearables, watches, cars, lights, speakers, switches, thermostats…. the list is long and getting longer by the day.

The Bluetooth standard, or specification was bumped from 4.1 to 4.2 in December 2014 (when I wrote this blog). Not a big deal number wise, but a big deal as far as laying the groundwork for Bluetooth to become more robust and even more widely adopted in the future.

“Bluetooth 4.2 introduces industry-leading privacy settings that lowers power consumption and builds upon the government-grade security features of the Bluetooth specification. The new privacy features put control back into the hands of the consumer by making it difficult for eavesdroppers to track a device through its Bluetooth connection without permission. For example, when shopping in a retail store with beacons, unless you’ve enabled permission for the beacon to engage with your device, you can’t be tracked”, says The Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

Added security is always good. (Remember, when it comes to security, its very simple to work out if something is secure or not…. “If it’s easy, its not secure”).

I am interested in beacons a great deal and will be watching this space closely to see if its any better to manage them as a user than with version 4.1

The group further explains, “building on the capabilities released earlier with Bluetooth 4.1 and the new features released in 4.2, the Internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP) will allow Bluetooth Smart sensors to access the Internet directly via IPv6/6LoWPAN. IP connectivity makes it possible to use existing IP infrastructure to manage Bluetooth Smart ‘edge’ devices. This is ideal for connected home scenarios that need both personal and wide area control. This profile will be ratified by the end of the year”.

This internet connectivity is a big deal.
In the past you have had to use your phone as a gateway device to get your Bluetooth devices connected to the Internet. This means that once your phone is out of range, your Bluetooth device is pretty much a paper weight.
I’m not exactly sure how this update will work in this regard.
If there is some sort of connection option where I can control and monitor my Bluetooth devices at home while I am at work, then it’s going to be a game changer…. I am really excited about this one!

Of course, increased speed is also on board; Bluetooth 4.2 is 250 percent faster than the previous version. This is a much welcomed improvement, as Bluetooth transfer rates have historically been slow.

Speed is always good. I personally have not come up against any speed limits.
Most Bluetooth transactions for me have always been snappy enough.
But, like I said, if it comes for free (no extra power drain), then who am I to knock it.

All in all, this is great news.
The one bit that is missing that I (and every other Bluetooth fan / hacker out there) am disappointed is not in the new spec is mesh. The ability for Bluetooth devices to figure out the best route to take to get a signal to where it needs to go, hopping through multiple devices if necessary.
Once mesh networking makes to Bluetooth, we are going to see small, cheap, low power sensors and devices all over the place.

Exciting times ahead!