The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced that it has updated its Bluetooth specification to 4.1 with new features for both developers and users of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices. The update brings coexistence support for LTE, better connections, and improved data transfer, all of which lets you connect, stay connected, and interact with your Bluetooth 4.1 devices faster and more reliably. The improved connections, for example, means developers can control reconnection intervals so your devices will automatically disconnect when you leave the room and then reconnect when in close proximity. That in return could also bring better battery life:
- Coexistence — engineered to work seamlessly and cooperatively with the latest generation cellular technologies like LTE. Bluetooth and LTE radios can communicate in order to ensure transmissions are coordinated and therefore reduce the possibility of near-band interference. The coordination between the two technologies happens automatically, while the consumer experiences the high quality they expect.
- Better Connections — provides manufacturers with more control over creating and maintaining Bluetooth connections by making the reconnection time interval flexible and variable. This improves the consumer experience by allowing devices to reconnect automatically when they are in proximity of one another. The consumer can leave the room and upon returning, two recently used devices reconnect without user intervention.
- Improved Data Transfer — Bluetooth Smart technology provides bulk data transfer. For example, through this new capability, sensors, which gathered data during a run, bike ride or swim, transfer that data more efficiently when the consumer returns home.
The new standard will also allow Bluetooth 4.1 devices to act as both a hub and peripheral, meaning developers can allow their device to connect to multiple devices simultaneously. The example SIG gives is a smart watch pulling data from a heart rate monitor while also acting as a peripheral for a smartphone:
With this new capability, a single device acts as both a Bluetooth Smart peripheral and a Bluetooth Smart Ready hub at the same time. For example, a smart watch acts as a hub gathering information from a Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor while simultaneously acting as a peripheral to a smartphone — displaying new message notifications from the phone. As the Bluetooth Smart ecosystem grows, the Bluetooth SIG expects more solutions to play both a hub and peripheral role. Bluetooth 4.1 delivers this type of flexibility to Bluetooth Smart devices and application developers.
Lastly, SIG is including support for Bluetooth Smart sensors to use IPv6. The Bluetooth 4.1 update is all software related, which means manufacturers will be able to start rolling out over-the-air updates to existing Bluetooth 4.0 devices.