The Bluetooth SIG, the organization that controls and maintains the Bluetooth standard, has some big plans for 2016. The group said today that it will be increasing the range of Bluetooth Smart (which used to be called Bluetooth LE, or “low energy”) by a factor of four, beyond its current top range of 330 feet. Moreover, it was planning a doubling of bandwidth without increasing power demand, and allow for mesh networking, rather than just hub-and-spoke configurations.
Bluetooth, which had been used mostly for peripherals like smartphone earpieces and computer mice, has been trying to expand its portfolio of use cases for a couple of years. The most recent version, 4.2, included an IP stack; the idea was that Bluetooth devices could connect directly to Internet routers without needing the intercession of WiFi.
This latest pronouncement from the SIG, which comes in advance of the upcoming CES, are aimed squarely at the Internet of Things market. A 1200-foot range for low-power-drain devices, coupled with the ability to stand up ad-hoc networks in a mesh configuration, is a natural for managing a flexible universe of connected devices. If they don’t need WiFi — which can be expensive to deploy and maintain, and may not be available in consumer applications — to connect to the Internet, all the better for the Bluetooth crowd.