Bluetooth always and everywhere

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Almost everyone knows what Bluetooth is. That is what a recently published study on the “blue” wireless standard for short distances revealed. But there is more. In the future, almost everything will be Bluetooth capable.

Bluetooth is the backbone of the connected world—at least that is what it says on the website of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. A representative study conducted by the Canadian market research company Lux Insides appears to have confirmed that fact. According to the study, nine out of ten consumers now know that Bluetooth is the technology behind wireless networks. That figure was still 86 percent in 2012. During the same period, use of the wireless standard has increased from 32 to 78 percent.

So, apparently, the more than 25,000 companies in the bustling interest group have done a good job. The wireless standard makes uncomplicated connections possible in a growing number of products.

bluetooth Infographic (Image: Lux Insights).For example, the people who participated in the study own an average of four devices equipped with Bluetooth technology. Six out of ten people surveyed said that they also pay attention to wireless connectivity when making future purchasing decisions.

Inevitably, that kind of popularity also translates into a high market-penetration rate. Analysts at ABI Research expect a good three billion Bluetooth-capable devices for this year, and supposedly more than five billion by 2021.

No smartphone without a “blue” chip

Of course, smartphones—nearly all of which are equipped with a Bluetooth chip—account for the lion’s share. Still, if you want to be the “backbone of the connected world,” there is no getting around the Internet of Things—which was also verified by the study. Besides medical-alert transmitters and navigation aids in buildings and in the public, those surveyed attributed the greatest importance to home automation, i.e. monitoring lights and security systems or controlling room temperature.

In the smart home, other wireless standards such as Zigbee and Z-Wave set the tone (or switch off the lights!). They both have one thing in common: They are mesh-capable. Anyone who is within the range of one device can communicate with all the others because commands are passed on to them by a node. That even makes it possible to manage larger buildings, provided at least one product is installed in each room.

Meshed Bluetooth

Until now, that is something that Bluetooth could not do. But this year, Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy) with “Smart Mesh” is coming out, which significantly increases its ability to compete. That would also give just about every user a remote control for his smart home via his smartphone, tablet or notebook. So far, neither Zigbee nor Z-Wave have been implemented in a smartphone.

In the end, however, the manufacturers of smart home devices will decide who and what are connected in the living room. Thanks to Apples “Home Kit,” Bluetooth already has a pretty large foot in the door to the smart home.

Bluetooth SIG (Image: Bluetooth SIG)

Bluetooth is capable of much more than just smartphones. Bluetooth SIG (Image: Bluetooth SIG)