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Bluetooth 5 is officially the latest version of the popular wireless specification now that the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), a group of more than 30,000 companies using and fostering the standard, has approved its adoption. The group, based in Kirkland, Wash., announced the formal adoption of Bluetooth 5 this morning.

Bluetooth may be best known as the means of connecting cell phones to in-car audio-visual systems, allowing hands-free calling and playing music wirelessly. But it’s also used in medical equipment, home automation, manufacturing plants and fulfillment centers.

Compared to the current version of Bluetooth, the upgraded specification offers four times the range, twice the speed and eight times the broadcast-message capacity, the Bluetooth SIG said in a release. The longer range allows using Bluetooth-enabled devices anywhere in a home or other building. The higher speed enables the use of more responsive, high-performance devices. The increased broadcast-message size increases the data sent, for improved and more context-relevant uses.

bluetooth_logoThe latest spec also includes updates intended to reduce interference with other wireless technologies.

Some 48 billion internet-enabled devices will be in use by 2021, nearly one-third of which will include Bluetooth, according to Ryan Martin, a senior analyst at ABI Research. Some competitors to Bluetooth include IrDA and HomeRF’s SWAP.

Consumers can expect to see products built with Bluetooth 5 within two to six months, the SIG said.

The name Bluetooth comes from the tenth-century Danish King Harald Blåtand — Harold Bluetooth, in English. King Blåtand helped unite warring factions in parts of what are now Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Similarly, Bluetooth technology was created as an open standard to allow connectivity and collaboration between disparate products and industries.

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