Bluetooth 5 to be introduced on Thursday

The new version of Bluetooth offers twice the speed and four times the range as the current spec

Bluetooth 5 set to be introduced on Thursday

The Bluetooth logo.

Credit: Stephen Lawson

The Bluetooth SIG will formally introduce Bluetooth 5 on Thursday, offering a significant upgrade in speed and range, and hopefully security as well.

Bluetooth 5 will have double the speed and four times the range of the current version, 4.2, which was more focused on power savings than performance. Technical improvements in Bluetooth 5 include new functionality for connectionless services, such as navigation and location-based services, and possibly set up beacons around the world to transmit information.

All of these details are spelled out in an update from Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). 

Powell said the new version of Bluetooth will add "significantly more capacity" to the data transmissions that beacons pump out in order to trigger messages and app actions on phones. That should mean improvements in connectivity with smartphones and other devices, like smart watches, or the beacons he described, which could be set up around retail stores and other venues that send users location-based information.

Of course, that also means the beacons know every move you make. Just remember that.

Powell also noted the change in nomenclature, dropping the "v" in favor of just Bluetooth 5.

"Our new naming approach is focused on simplifying our marketing, communicating user benefits more effectively and making it easier to signal significant technology updates to the market,” Powell wrote.

Hopefully the new version will also include some new security features because Bluetooth has been the attack surface for numerous hacks, and there are whole toolsets out there for hacking Bluetooth. Some for benign reasons, but anything benign can be turned bad with ease. The fact is Bluetooth will be an important protocol in the Internet of Things, and it must be more secure than it currently is.

The SIG will reveal more about Bluetooth 5 on Thursday at an event in London.

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