Hopes that an Internet of Things (IoT) based on IPv6 might soon become a reality has been given a boost by the news that features friendly to this vision of universal, low-power connectivity have just been added to the next version of Bluetooth.
Bluetooth 4.2, agreed this week by the technology’s industry Special Interest Group, has a number of enhancements but it is the desire to use the specification to enable Internet of Things connectivity that forms its centrepiece.
From now on, Bluetooth devices built on 4.2 will be able to connect to the Internet directly though routers supporting Bluetooth Smart Internet Gateway (GATT) standard, due next year, instead of having to rely on paired mobile devices.
Importantly, 4.2 will allow the multitude of embedded devices that might use this connectivity to support IPv6 through the awkward-sounding IPv6/6LoWPAN, still working its way through the IETF. This development matters – without IPv6 at its core the Internet of Things using Bluetooth will never happen.
Although encryption is not new to Bluetooth, 4.2 tightens up the key exchange procedure, adding privacy to make it harder for eavesdroppers to track a Bluetooth 4.2 device without permission.
A final enhancement is efficiency, which through Data Length Extension (basically bigger packets) should increase speed by two and a half times and available capacity by ten times, the Bluetooth SIG said.
“Bluetooth 4.2 is all about continuing to make Bluetooth Smart the best solution to connect all the technology in your life from personal sensors to your connected home,” said Bluetooth SIG executive director, Mark Powell
“In addition to the improvements to the specification itself, a new profile known as IPSP enables IPv6 for Bluetooth, opening entirely new doors for device connectivity. Bluetooth Smart is the only technology that can scale with the market, provide developers the flexibility to innovate, and be the foundation for the IoT.”
One potential confusion is that as with Bluetooth 4.1, not all these features are mandatory which means that consumers are unlikely to ever see ‘4.2’ uses as a branding. More likely, the exact capability adopted from the specification will be advertised instead.
Announced earlier in 2014, Bluetooth 4.1's main enhancement was to extend its range.