You can now make smart gadgets and IoT devices that use Bluetooth 5

Bluetooth 5 is coming to mobile devices very soon, but it has already reached developer boards designed to make gadgets and IoT devices

In a few months, Bluetooth 5 will finally arrive in smartphones and tablets. But you can already test the technology on developer boards being shipped by hardware makers.

Bluetooth 5 is a major step ahead for the venerable technology, which was introduced in 1999 to hook up devices wirelessly. It is two times faster than predecessor Bluetooth 4.2, has four times longer range, and boasts cool new connectivity features.

It can transfer data at speeds of up to 2Mbps (bits per second) and has a realistic range of 120 meters. The range could be even longer in a clear line of sight, the standards setting organization Bluetooth Special Interest Group said.

That's good news for those who pair mobile devices or PCs to peripherals like wireless speakers. There will be fewer connection drops.

A Bluetooth device will also transmit data from one device to many, a feature that will be beneficial in smart homes. For example, if a surveillance system detects a thief, it could use Bluetooth 5 to simultaneously activate the safety light and the alarm system.

The new wireless standard can also broadcast richer data, like location information and URLs. That could be useful in retail stores or even self-driving cars, which transfer navigation data.

Bluetooth 5 will reach devices in two to six months, the Bluetooth SIG said in December. Some of the first devices could be smartphones and tablets with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chips, which has Bluetooth 5 in the chipset.

But you can start testing Bluetooth 5 with wireless boards now shipping. The boards will be particularly handy for tinkerers prototyping gadgets or developing internet of things devices for automation or industrial settings.

Wireless boards like Particle and Espressif Systems -- which primarily use Wi-Fi -- are extremely popular, but other boards with Bluetooth 5 functionality are available or are coming soon.

Abelon Systems Bluetooth 5 for IoT

If you're developing prototype gadgets, Abelon Systems' Internet of Things Reference Platform will offer a range of wireless connectivity technology, including support for Bluetooth 5. It will also support ZigBee and the emerging low-bandwidth IoT connectivity technologies like SIGFOX or LoRaWAN. On-board sensors include an accelerometer, gyrometer, and magnetometer, but other sensors could be attached through interfaces. It has the popular I2C and UART connector interfaces. It will ship later this year, and the price wasn't immediately available.

Nordic Semiconductor's hardware development kit

Nordic's nRF52840 Preview Development Kit, which is priced between US$40 and $50, is a development board on which small electronics can be developed. The board is compatible with Arduino Uno Revision 3, a popular electronics development environment. It has a 64Mhz Cortex-M4F processor, 1MB of integrated flash storage, and 256KB of RAM. It supports ARM Mbed, a cloud-based development platform. It also has an NFC interface and a wide number of connectors. It also has a USB 2.0 interface.

TI's SimpleLink Bluetooth board

Texas Instruments was one of the first to jump on the Bluetooth 5 bandwagon, and its $29 Launchpad Board wireless development kit is designed to test Bluetooth 5 applications in IoT settings. The board will be upgradeable to Bluetooth 5 when the full firmware stack is released. It has a 48Mhz ARM Cortex-M3 processor and a set of inputs to connect sensors. It is available on TI's website.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?