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Tim 30 Jan 2014

Bluetooth set to rise again

By Tim in Business

Remember when you used to walk down the street and be bombarded with strange pop-ups on your phone sent via Bluetooth®? An offer for a free coffee, or a discounted haircut? Then came the security scandal of Blue-jacking! Could nasties be hacking your phone by allowing all and sundry to connect via Bluetooth?

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That kind of ended bluetooth as a marketing tool, more about bad publicity than real threats – certainly no worse than the WiFi threats we seem blase towards nowadays on ever more developed phones. So in recent years as the smartphone revolution rolled on, so Bluetooth was relegated to little more than a personal connection tool and even then often as a back-up. We might connect to our in-car hands-free set via Bluetooth and maybe even a set of portable speakers but otherwise WiFi is our preferred route.

Until now. That poor router sat in the corner of your lounge at home, is already under stress. Even if you have upgraded in the last two years – and many won’t have – it is highly unlikely your broadband router offering you WiFi capability in your own home was built to cope with the multi-tude of devices probably connecting to it each day.

One smartphone, one laptop, a tablet, maybe a heating control? A smartTV or channel box? An internet radio? Maybe even a smart fridge? 2014 is set to see even more ‘connectable’ devices arrive in the home as the internet of things becomes a reality beyond just the domain of the geeks and the techies. So how will we cope? step forward Bluetooth once more.

Wearable technology is about to give Bluetooth it’s biggest kick forward for almost a decade. The latest version is hi-tech but low-energy and in the hunt for minimising battery depletion time, that is helping Bluetooth clamber over WiFi as the connectivity of choice. The era of the personal area network (PAN) is once again upon us and with Bluetooth at its heart.

Already, the leading lights in wearable-tech such as the pebble, Nike+ & FitBit have based their offerings on Bluetooth 4.0 technology to syncronise gadget to smartphone, tablet or computer. With so much processing power in our smartphones, using them as the hub for the
PAN is a sensible and efficient way of harnessing the power of technology whilst easing the pressure on our final internet connection point and using that only when needed for external connections.

Next to come, Bluetooth 4.1, gives the technology even greater potential. Foundations for IPV6 capability is supported alongside a longer (3 minute) retry duration, just in-case a device wanders from the PAN. Bluetooth 4.1 is also more than just a dummy end point too, it can at as a partial hub too, so interacting directly with a number of devices at once and minimising the stress on the main hub such as your smartphone.

With better insulation meaning less interference, the next set of Bluetooth devices later this year could be at the centre of the internet of everything.

Do you still use Bluetooth? Do you think it is much under-used?

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