The industry is excited about the prospects of smart – or intelligent – homes, but it is still very early days. A new version of Bluetooth aims to be the cornerstone of wireless, low-power, private and internet-connected smart homes everywhere.
Bluetooth now connects to the internet
What is a smart home exactly? The industry has talked about it for years, but it seems hard to define. They imagine that all your devices such as lights, locks, thermostats, switches, TVs, phones and everything else is connected, either in a home network or to the internet. By 2020, 28 billion “things” are expected to be online.
Many tasks in your daily life can be automated based on your routines or location (by using a phone or watch with bluetooth). So when you are walking up to your front door it will automatically unlock (and vice versa). When you rise from your bed in the morning, the coffee machine will automatically start brewing. And lights will automatically switch on and off. All this will be possible with bluetooth, and the new 4.2 version brings us closer.
Bluetooth 4.2 is the next step after 4.1 and 4.0 that made bluetooth extremely power efficient. With one of the round, flat batteries you can literally power small bluetooth devices for years. And with 4.2, bluetooth devices can now connect directly to the internet. In the past, you would need a box or device in-between.
Bluetooth 4.2 also adds "industry-leading" privacy protection to your home or mobile device to protect you from prying governments, companies or individuals. It ensures that you cannot be traced via bluetooth when using for example bluetooth-based in-door navigation systems in shopping malls (much like GPS works outdoor), except when you specifically opt-in to services. On top of that, encryption of all transmitted data has been added.
Current Bluetooth 4.0 devices – for example new smartphones – can be updated to 4.2 via software, but 4.2 also introduces 2.5x faster data transfer, which requires new hardware.
Bluetooth is developed by a non-profit group by people from Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung, and other companies.
Now we just need a better term than "internet of things".