Beneath all of the hubbub of hardware manufacturers vying for consumers to feature their hubs in connected homes, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group is releasing a new standard that will enhance the compatibility of smart things and make connections between devices even more secure.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has earned approval for its latest standard, the faster and more secure Bluetooth version 4.2. Bluetooth 4.2 includes multiple ways to connect to wireless hubs and "edge devices," offering options for wireless devices to connect to the web via IPv6 or 6LoWPAN via the Internet Protocol Support Profile.
The Bluetooth SIG says it expects its IPv6 and 6LoWPAN features to be ratified before 2014 comes to a close as core specifications have already been adopted. The term 6LoWPAN is an acronym of IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks.
With version 4.2, smart devices can communicate with each another without having to rely on an Internet of Things (IoT) hub. Right now, many smart homes have to maintain more than one hub if the household's smart devices were produced by different manufacturers.
"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," says Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG.
Along with the new connectivity protocols, Bluetooth version 4.2 brings better security and faster transfer speeds. Bluetooth version 4.2 also features smarter data packets that enable transfer speeds 2.5 times as fast as the previous standard.
"Increased data transfer speeds and packet capacity reduces the opportunity for transmission errors to occur and reduces battery consumption, resulting in a more efficient connection," says the group.
The new Bluetooth standard's privacy features will require wireless beacons to obtain permission before they can connect to Bluetooth devices. The privacy updates returns control to the users, making it much more difficult for Wi-Fi beacons to track consumers who have Bluetooth turned on, says the Bluetooth SIG.
The privacy improvement can be rolled out via a firmware update, though the onus falls on the hardware manufacturer to roll out a patch to bring the hard-coded software up to date to the latest Bluetooth standard, according to a Bluetooth SIG spokesperson. The speed improvements, however, will require new hardware altogether.
"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," says Powell.