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Bluetooth 4.1 looks to the future

Latest protocol version sows the seeds of IPV6
Fri Dec 06 2013, 13:47

THE INTERNET OF THINGS has received a boost in the latest iteration of Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced Bluetooth 4.1, the first version of Bluetooth to lay the foundations for IPV6 capability.

The first hints of what the Bluetooth SIG had planned for this new version were revealed to The INQUIRER in October during our exclusive interview with Steve Hegenderfer at Appsworld. There, he revealed his aspirations for the Bluetooth protocol to become integral to the Internet of Things.

At the front end of Bluetooth 4.1, the biggest change for users is that the retry duration for lost devices has been increased to a full three minutes, so if you wander off with your wireless headphones still on, there's more of a chance of being able to seamlessly carry on listening upon your return.

Behind the scenes, devices fitted with Bluetooth 4.1 will be able to act as both hub and end point. The advantage of this is that multiple devices can share information between them without going via the host device, so your smartwatch can talk to your heart monitor and send the combined data in a single transmission to your smartphone.

This sort of "pooling" of devices represents an "extranet of things", and the technology can therefore be applied to a wider area in forming the "Internet of Things" too.

The other major additions are better isolation techniques to ensure that Bluetooth, which broadcasts on an unregulated band, doesn't interfere either with itself or with signals from other protocols broadcasting at similar frequencies, including WiFi.

The Bluetooth protocol has retained complete backwards compatibility, so a new Bluetooth 4.1 enabled device will work seamlessly with a Bluetooth 1.0 dongle bought in a pound shop.

In addition, Bluetooth 4.0 devices can be Bluetooth 4.1 enabled through patches, so we should see some Bluetooth 4.1 enabled hardware arrive early in 2014. µ


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