Evolution of Bluetooth Technology

Dr Parshotam S. Manhas
Bluetooth is a short-range, high speed, low power wireless communication technology that uses ultra-high frequency radio waves in the ISM bands from 2.402 GHz to 2.480 GHz to transmit information (data or voice) among Bluetooth-compatible devices such as mobile phones, computers, peripherals, and building personal area networks known as piconets. A piconet contains a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 8 Bluetooth peer devices usually one master and others act as slaves. Bluetooth technology provides a 10-meter personal bubble that supports simultaneous transmission of both voice and data for multiple devices. The purpose of Bluetooth is to replace the cables that normally connect devices and it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables.
The Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) is an industry group consisting of leaders in the telecommunications and computing industries that are driving the development of the technology and bringing it to market. Over 35000 companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking and consumer electronics have executed the Bluetooth adopter’s agreement and are members of the Bluetooth SIG.
Bluetooth wireless technology was named after a Danish King, Herald Blatand whose last name means “Bluetooth” in English. He was credited with uniting Denmark and Norway, just as Bluetooth wireless technology endeavors to unite two disparate devices like the PC and telecommunications industries.
Bluetooth 5.0 is the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless communication standard in practice. It’s commonly used for wireless headphones and other audio hardware, as well as wireless keyboards, cordless mouse and game controllers. Bluetooth has also been used for communication between various smart homes and internet of things (IoT) devices. Its primary benefits are improved speed and greater range. Bluetooth 5.0 also enables to play of audio on two connected devices at the same time i.e. dual audio. With Bluetooth 5.0, devices can use data transfer speeds up to 50 Mbps and communicate up to 240 meters, however, walls and other obstacles will weaken the signal.
In January 2020, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group SIG introduced the latest version of Bluetooth version 5.2 along with the next generation Bluetooth LE Audio. The major changes introduced in version 5.2 are Isochronous Channels (ISOC), LE Power Control (LEPC) and Enhanced Attribute Protocol (EATT). Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) audio is a new standard for low-power audio transmission over Bluetooth and mainly assists in hearing aids among other benefits. It can radically expand compatibility with devices like smart phones, wireless headphones, and even hearing aids. LE Audio is a specification for streaming audio using a Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) chip. The one-to-many nature of audio sharing also opens up the doors to a whole-home audio experience using Bluetooth. LE Audio with new improved LC3 codec once available will change the Bluetooth forever. LC3 ( Low Complexity Communication Codec) is an audio codec specified by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) for the LE Audio protocol introduced in Bluetooth 5.2. It’s developed by Fraunhofer IIS and Ericsson as the successor of the SBC codec.
Bluetooth hearing aids LE Audio
The 2.4 GHz frequency range used by Bluetooth is currently shared by other wireless communication standards such as 802.11b LANs, Home RF LANs, and urban and suburban wireless telecommunications systems. The 2.4 GHz is the resonant frequency of water molecules and therefore the operating frequency for microwave oven which could prove effective jammer can obliterate communications with all 2.4-GHz devices in the area.
The Bluetooth radio uses a fast acknowledgment and frequency hopping transceiver that hops at 1600/sec to combat interference and fading. Bluetooth radio modules avoid interference from other signals by hopping to a new frequency after transmitting or receiving a packet. Compared with other systems operating in the same frequency band, the Bluetooth radio typically hops faster and uses shorter packets. This makes the Bluetooth radio more robust than other systems. Bluetooth also uses short packages and fast hopping to limit the impact of domestic and professional microwave ovens. Use of Forward Error Correction (FEC) limits the impact of random noise on long-distance links.
Bluetooth technology was designed to be small and inexpensive. Bluetooth technology has no line-of-sight requirements making it a potential replacement for infrared ports. Bluetooth can operate through walls or from within your briefcase. Portable PCs can wirelessly connect to printers, transfer data to desktop PCs or PDAs, or interface with cellular phones for wireless WAN (Wide Area Networking) access to corporate networks or the Internet.
Bluetooth delivers opportunities for rapid ad hoc connections, and the possibility of automatic, unconscious, connections between devices. Printers, PDA’s, desktop computers, fax machines, keyboards, joysticks and virtually any other digital device can be part of the Bluetooth system. But beyond un-tethering devices by replacing the cables, Bluetooth radio technology provides a universal bridge to existing data networks, a peripheral interface, and a mechanism to form small private ad hoc groupings of connected devices away from fixed network infrastructures. Security of Bluetooth makes it an attractive solution to be incorporated in the products.
Bluetooth is one of the key technologies that can make the mobile information society possible, blurring the boundaries between home, the office, and the outside world. The seamless connectivity promised by Bluetooth makes it possible to explore a range of interactive and highly transparent personalized services which were even difficult to dream of because of the complexity involved in making various devices talk to each other. Bluetooth technology adoption is expected to be widespread throughout the computer and telecommunications industry. The Bluetooth SIG has defined favorable adoption terms, including open, royalty-free availability of the specification, and is playing an important role in spreading the technology.
Low power consumption capabilities and energy harvesting technologies represent exciting developments to significantly improve battery life for IoT devices. With the addition of the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology, these devices can enjoy “forever battery” life or will not require batteries at all, unlocking new possibilities for the IoT. As Bluetooth technology continues to advance from the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard to 5.1 and on to 5.2, we’ll see endless possibilities open up for a more sustainable smart device and IoT ecosystem that is no longer reliant on batteries and is much more cost-efficient.
The rise of 5G will increase the demand for Bluetooth devices such as beacons, asset tracking, sensing, tags, and locating. We’ll see a growing demand for “battery-free” Bluetooth devices in many industries including smart homes, industry 4.0, smart cities, healthcare, and retail. For large IoT deployments, Bluetooth and 5G will play pivotal roles in connecting devices at different points in a system.
Finally, the Bluetooth technology will continue to grow and extend its specification to retain the prominent position in future markets including the IoT. Next-generation Wi-Fi, called Wi-Fi 6E; a more powerful Bluetooth standard called Bluetooth 5.2, and of course 5G will change the dynamics of staying connected.