The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced an updated Bluetooth spec, version 4.2, that introduces a number of new features alongside enhancements to speed and privacy. The update also allows for Bluetooth over IPv6, which along with an upcoming update will allow devices to have a direct connection to the Internet and open up new possibilities for Bluetooth sensors and other accessories.
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“Bluetooth 4.2 is all about continuing to make Bluetooth Smart the best solution to connect all the technology in your life – from personal sensors to your connected home. In addition to the improvements to the specification itself, a new profile known as IPSP enables IPv6 for Bluetooth, opening entirely new doors for device connectivity,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “Bluetooth Smart is the only technology that can scale with the market, provide developers the flexibility to innovate, and be the foundation for the IoT.”
As for privacy, the new Bluetooth 4.2 spec introduces new features that make it harder for people to track you through Bluetooth devices. The spec includes new privacy technology that the organization says will make it so “A Bluetooth Smart location tracker can only be followed by the owner or trusted group all while consuming less power.” SIG also says the new spec is more power efficient and includes FIPS-compliant encryption for secure connections when pairing devices like Bluetooth home automation products, for instance.
The SIG points out that the increased privacy will be important as Bluetooth beacons and Apple’s iBeacon experience become standard place in public spaces: The new privacy features put control back into the hands of the consumer by making it difficult for eavesdroppers to track a device through its Bluetooth connection without permission. For example, when shopping in a retail store with beacons, unless you’ve enabled permission for the beacon to engage with your device, you can’t be tracked.
In addition, Bluetooth 4.2 introduces faster data with “Up to 2.5x faster with a packet capacity increase of 10x vs. previous versions,” according to SIG. For end users, that could make an over-the-air firmware update faster by around 250%.
The Bluetooth Special Internet Group explained more about the upcoming Internet connectivity scheduled to arrive by the end of the year:
Building on the capabilities released earlier with Bluetooth 4.1 and the new features released in 4.2, the Internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP) will allow Bluetooth Smart sensors to access the Internet directly via IPv6/6LoWPAN. IP connectivity makes it possible to use existing IP infrastructure to manage Bluetooth Smart “edge” devices. This is ideal for connected home scenarios that need both personal and wide area control. This profile will be ratified by the end of the year.
The Bluetooth 4.2 spec can be viewed on the organization’s website alongside documentation.