Chances are if you have a connected kitchen product, it has Bluetooth. Bluetooth 5, the most recent version of the pervasive low-power communication technology, was released this week and we take a quick look at what this means for the connected kitchen.
Here are the biggest changes:
Longer range: The biggest change would be a much longer range. Bluetooth was originally developed as an extremely short range wireless technology (the original standard was described as a “piconet”), but the range on Bluetooth has been growing and growing over the past decade. With the arrival of Bluetooth 5, the wireless technology now has a range that exceeds that of Wi-Fi and goes much further than other smart home technologies like Z-Wave and Zigbee. Estimates put the new technology at a range of 200 meters; throw in some walls and metal appliances and you’re looking more at 120 meters, which is still longer than most Wi-Fi routers.
What this means is Bluetooth is now effectively a whole-home technology, meaning you’ll be able to take your iPhone across the house and still get that alert telling you your steak is done or be able to turn on that coffee maker while lying in bed.
Increased Speed: Bluetooth is not super-fast, but it doesn’t have to be. In smart home and smart kitchen scenarios, Bluetooth is used for control and notifications, so the doubling of the throughput under BT5 from 1 Mbps to 2 Mbps is good but not game-changing.
Enhanced Broadcast Messaging: While the increase in range may be the biggest practical difference with BT5, the spec’s augmented broadcast messaging capabilities which enable “connectionless” broadcasting are the most intriguing. What the heck does that mean? As I wrote in June, BT5 means “we’ll see more smart home gear and regular old appliances utilize Bluetooth broadcast messaging. The end result will be our smartphones receiving info and alerts from things like dishwashers, coffee makers, home systems and our cars, all of which will give us information without having to download a purpose built app for each of these devices.”
One thing we didn’t hear about this week was Bluetooth mesh, a highly-anticipated improvement that would make our smart homes even more powerful by enabling each Bluetooth radio to act as a range extender. The Bluetooth SIG told me that the Bluetooth Mesh specification is expected to be released in the first half of 2017.
Bottom line: Bluetooth 5 adds more range and speed, and with its new beacon/broadcasting capabilities, it will make it much easier for those connected kitchen appliances to talk to us and our smartphones.