In a few months, Bluetooth 5 will finally arrive in smartphones and tablets. But you can already test the technology on developer boards being shipped by hardware makers.
Bluetooth 5 is a major step ahead for the venerable technology, which was introduced in 1999 to hook up devices wirelessly. It is two times faster than predecessor Bluetooth 4.2, has four times longer range, and boasts cool new connectivity features.
It can transfer data at speeds of up to 2Mbps (bits per second) and has a realistic range of 120 meters. The range could be even longer in a clear line of sight, the standards setting organization Bluetooth Special Interest Group said.
That’s good news for those who pair mobile devices or PCs to peripherals like wireless speakers. There will be fewer connection drops.
A Bluetooth device will also transmit data from one device to many, a feature that will be beneficial in smart homes. For example, if a surveillance system detects a thief, it could use Bluetooth 5 to simultaneously activate the safety light and the alarm system.
The new wireless standard can also broadcast richer data, like location information and URLs. That could be useful in retail stores or even self-driving cars, which transfer navigation data.
Bluetooth 5 will reach devices in two to six months, the Bluetooth SIG said in December. Some of the first devices could be smartphones and tablets with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chips, which has Bluetooth 5 in the chipset.But you can start testing Bluetooth 5 with wireless boards now shipping. The boards will be particularly handy for tinkerers prototyping gadgets or developing internet of things devices for automation or industrial settings.