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Bluetooth continues to grow in smart home, smart building applications

Bluetooth continues to grow in smart home, smart building applications
Bluetooth remains a popular wireless standard for smart home devices and is growing in smart buildings as well. As a result, adoption of Bluetooth-enabled devices is expected to grow significantly.

The latest version of Bluetooth, Bluetooth 5, has been out for a few years. Since its release in 2016 and the introduction of Bluetooth mesh networking in 2017, the number of Bluetooth-enabled smart home and internet of things (IoT) devices has only grown. According to ABI Research, 650 million Bluetooth smart home devices were shipped in 2018. That number is estimated to reach over 1.1 billion units by 2022. 

The main benefits of Bluetooth 5 are its ability to operate over a greater distance and its improved speed. Bluetooth’s website claims it has 4 times the range, 2 times the speed and 8 times the broadcasting message capacity over its predecessor. Its low energy functionality and security have made it a popular choice for smart home devices.

The introduction of Bluetooth mesh networking has opened up more possibilities for both smart home and smart building applications, among others. Mesh capabilities now enables many-to-many device communication as opposed to point-to-point. This allows for large-scale device networks, ideal for IoT solutions like building automation in smart buildings. 

Kevin Tate,
Chief Revenue Officer of Rigado
Kevin Tate, Chief Revenue Officer of Rigado, believes that Bluetooth 5 is an attractive alternative to Wi-Fi in some cases, due to better battery life and lower costs. He added that Bluetooth was “starting to push into where Wi-Fi once was the de facto. Now we’re seeing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth working together.”

Rigado specializes in commercial IoT solutions utilizing Bluetooth 5 and Nordic nRF52 Bluetooth chips in its latest devices. Tate explained the reason they took the approach they did was because using a standard protocol such as Bluetooth was less complex, which made it easier to install and run apps. “We’re trying to make it so that customers only have to worry about the data and what to do with it, and we’ll take care of getting that data to them,” he said.

Tate explained that Rigado was early in the consumer Bluetooth space and had worked closely on Bluetooth standards and with the Bluetooth community. A few years ago the company saw Bluetooth being pulled toward the commercial space and understood that it would require a different approach; it would still need to connect to things and run apps, but couldn’t rely on phones.

To address this the company offers gateways for smart building applications that can connect with Bluetooth, Thread, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and LTE. One gateway can run multiple applications and share those connections with the sensors. “This allows the gateway to be the starting point for one application and then grow and expand as a smart office or building wants to get smarter,” Tate said. 

On the smart home side, many companies showcased new Bluetooth products at this year's show. 

China-based electronics company Xiaomi, for example, launched new smart home products that utilize the Bluetooth mesh networking technology from Silicon Labs. The new products include a series of smart lights that can be controlled by voice command through Xiaomi's smart alarm clock.

Intelithings announced RoomMe, a smart home sensor utilizing Bluetooth that offers person-specific automation. Users use the RoomMe app on their smartphones to connect via Bluetooth to sensors placed in the home. Personalized profiles based on personal preferences (e.g., lighting, temperature, music, etc.) can be made for up to 16 family member. When the sensor detects a member’s smartphone, the room will adjust to the preset preferences.

*For more smart home trends of 2019, please visit Tech Experts Reveal 2019 Smart Home Technologies.

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