Bluetooth 5.1 brings direction tracking, which could make your phone lose-proof

by: Chris Merriman

BLUETOOTH SIG has announced the arrival of Bluetooth 5.1, the latest version of the standard that adds a number of new features.

The Special Interest Group which represents tech-building members announced the launch, which brings location services to the party, making it easy to find not just if you're in range of a device, but to actually pinpoint where it is.

This is likely to be music to the ears of companies like Tile and Trackr which already offer tracking devices, but will also make it easier to find anything with a Bluetooth 5.1 beacon, effectively adding tracking devices to all your compatible devices.

The location can be honed down to the centimetre, because as well as proximity sensors, it adds a positioning sensor.

"Location services is one of the fastest growing solution areas for Bluetooth technology, and is forecasted to reach over 400 million products per year by 2022," said Mark Powell, Bluetooth SIG executive director. 

"This is great traction and the Bluetooth community continues to seek ways to further grow this market with technology enhancements that better address market needs, demonstrating the community's commitment to driving innovation and enriching the technology experience of users worldwide."

Despite having almost static development as recently as six or seven years ago, Bluetooth technology has advanced hugely, most notably with the addition of Bluetooth LE (sometimes called Bluetooth Smart) in its 2010 release.

In addition to the obvious "find my stuff" applications, Bluetooth 5.1 could also prove a gamechanger for those who want to create advertising or information beacons, because it can not only send a notification to the phone, but actually lead the potential customer there.

Launch Studio, the development environment for Bluetooth deployment has been updated to support Bluetooth 5.1 (you'd hope!) and is available from now.

Despite all these changes, Bluetooth has retained backwards compatibility throughout, meaning even your oldest devices should work with your newest. In some cases, advanced functionality can be added to older devices by virtue of being connected to newer ones


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