The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) this week officially adopted Version 4.2 of the specification with updates that boost speed and improve privacy. And a soon-to-be ratified profile will give a Bluetooth enabled device direct IPv6 connectivity without an intermediary device, such as a smartphone, or a portal.
According to Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, the Version 4.2 specification introduces new privacy settings features that allow both lower power consumption and brings government-grade security features to devices using it.
“The new privacy features put control back into the hands of the consumer by making it difficult for eavesdroppers to track a device through its Bluetooth connection without permission,” he said. “For example, when shopping in a retail store with beacons, unless you’ve enabled permission for the beacon to engage with your device, you can’t be tracked.”
Bluetooth 4.2 increases the speed and reliability of data transfers between Bluetooth Smart devices. “By increasing the capacity of Bluetooth Smart packets, devices transfer data up to 2.5 times faster than with previous versions,” said Powell. “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. “
What Internet of Things developers will find useful, he said, is that new features within the new internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP) will allow Bluetooth Smart sensors to access the Internet directly via IPv6/6LoWPAN.
“IP connectivity makes it possible to use existing IP infrastructure to manage Bluetooth Smart edge devices,” said Powell. “This is ideal for connected home scenarios that need both personal and wide area control. This profile will be ratified by the end of the year. “
Bluetooth 4.2 also has significantly improved security and privacy features, including the use in Bluetooth Low Energy of the National Institute of Standards and Technology-approved algorithms for encryption and hash.
Included in the new spec is the ability to constantly change MAC addresses, making it difficult for potential intruders to track a device through its Bluetooth connection. With it, until a user gives specific instructions allowing permission, a Bluetooth device with the new spec will not wake up every time it passes a location with beacons.