By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk
The next generation of Bluetooth promises to provide four time the range of the current versions with twice the bandwidth in a bid to create a “connectionless” IoT. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has reached a major milestone with 30,000 members using the technology in one way or another. Bluetooth 5 tackles some of the challenges that have held previous versions back in the roll out of IoT networks.
The new technology will be released later this year or early 2017 with significantly increased range, speed, and broadcast messaging capacity. Extending range will deliver robust, reliable Internet of Things (IoT) connections that make full-home and building and outdoor use cases a reality. Higher speeds will send data faster and optimize responsiveness. Increasing broadcast capacity will propel the next generation of “connectionless” services like beacons and location-relevant information and navigation. These Bluetooth advancements open up more possibilities and enable SIG companies – now at an all-time high of 30,000 member companies – to build an accessible, interoperable IoT.
“Bluetooth 5 will transform the way people experience the IoT by making it something that happens simply and seamlessly around them,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “Increasing operation range will enable connections to IoT devices that extend far beyond the walls of a typical home, while increasing speed supports faster data transfers and software updates for devices. And now with the ability to broadcast a much richer set of information, Bluetooth 5 will make beacons, location awareness, and other connectionless services an even more relevant part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience”
DSP designer CEVA is already engaged with multiple customers whose silicon will incorporate these Bluetooth 5 features when the standard is finally ratified later this year.
“The advancements coming in Bluetooth 5 keep the technology at the forefront of innovation and will help to transform the way people interact with the Internet of Things, providing them a seamless experience that is both simpler and more relevant,” said Errett Kroeter, vice president of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. “We are pleased to see the excitement and fast implementation of this new technology from SIG members like CEVA and others throughout the product value chain, which will ultimately bring Bluetooth 5 benefits to customers around the world in the shortest time.”
RivieraWaves is part of CEVA and is the leading IP vendor providing solutions for both Bluetooth low energy and Bluetooth dual mode (i.e. Bluetooth classic combined with Bluetooth low energy), with a long pedigree stretching back more than fifteen years. As a result, CEVA Bluetooth IP has shipped in more than a billion devices to date.
"We see very strong traction in the market for these features. Indeed, we already have some licensees with silicon prototypes implementing some of these Bluetooth 5 features and we look forward to the wide scale deployment of Bluetooth 5 in due course,” said Aviv Malinovitch, vice president and general manager of CEVA's Connectivity business unit.
The RivieraWaves Bluetooth IP platforms consist of a hardware baseband controller, plus a feature-rich software protocol stack. For Bluetooth low energy, this protocol stack encompasses the Link Layer up to the GAP/GATT plus a comprehensive set of Services and Profiles. For Bluetooth dual mode, this protocol stack presents an industry standard HCI interface. A flexible radio interface allows the platform to be deployed with either RivieraWaves RF or various partners’ RF IP, enabling optimal selection of foundry and process node.
Today, there are 8.2 billion Bluetooth products in use, but at least 4bn of these are the mobile phones that act as a terminal for a Bluetooth link. The SIG has ambitious plans that the enhancements in Bluetooth 5 and planned future Bluetooth technical advancements mean that Bluetooth will be in more than one-third of all installed IoT devices by 2020.
SIG membership has grown over 11 percent since the end of 2015, now reaching a record-high with its 30,000th member, Blossom Group, a startup that is building infrasound and low-frequency noise relaxation products.
“Implementing Bluetooth as our wireless technology and joining the SIG organization was the obvious choice to ensure our products’ success,” said Luke Sanger, CEO and co-founder of Blossom Group. “Bluetooth has the ubiquity of a trusted wireless communication platform and a great history of supporting market trends and working with developers and members to produce groundbreaking products and applications. We know Bluetooth will stay ahead of the game by working with its members and embracing technological advancements – from power efficiency to IoT connectivity – to push the limits of innovation.”