Bluetooth Wants To Talk Directly To The Internet—And Soon It Will

When it comes to ubiquitous technologies, few can beat Bluetooth. The wireless protocol has sunk its teeth into practically every modern consumer gadget there is. You name it, it’s in there—from phones and fitness tech to TVs, connected home appliances, cars, and so much more.

But Bluetooth has bigger plans. In a few short months, it will upend the status quo by doing something it’s never done before: bypassing the smartphone, its constant companion, and going online directly.

And when that happens, it could change the way tech makers approach numerous categories, from wearables and health devices to smart homes.

Bluetooth’s Plan To Nix The Pairing Blues

Typically, it works like this: You pair an accessory to a main computing device—say, a smartphone, tablet or laptop—and the primary unit receives data from the smart home sensor, smartwatch, fitness band, weight scale, heart rate monitor, or other gadget. From there, an app decides if the device merely acts as a receptacle for the information, or sends it to an online account.

All that’s set to change soon, thanks to Bluetooth’s latest Version 4.1, dubbed “Bluetooth Smart.”

Launched last year, that version got a lot of press for its Bluetooth Low Energy profile, says Suke Jawanda, chief marketing officer for the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. It made sense at the time. Old versions of Bluetooth had a bad reputation for fussy, glitch-prone pairing protocols and battery drain. But BLE enabled peer-to-peer wireless connectivity without a major hit on battery life.

I caught up with Jawanda at the Bluetooth World developer conference in San Jose, Calif., and he emphasized to me that there was more to Version 4.1 than just a low energy profile. “The coolest thing is, it allows for IPV6 connectivity down to wearables” and other Bluetooth devices, he told me.

IPV6, or Internet Protocol Version 6, essentially allows technologies to identify and locate computers on networks, as well as route Internet traffic. This means many Bluetooth Smart devices, accessories and sensors can identify themselves and communicate over the Internet—to any Web services developers want. And they can do that directly, without having to rely on a smartphone as an intermediary.

“These,” he said, pointing my smartwatch, “talk to the phone, and that app talks to the cloud. That works well right now. But what if I don’t want to speak to the device right now, but to the cloud directly?” Jawanda brings up another example—the glucose monitor used by diabetics. “My mother pricks her finger, then she has to sync it to her phone,” he said. But if the glucose data goes right to the cloud, then it’s immediately available to her doctor who can watch for signs of trouble.

The implications of this approach for health, as well as other things like fitness tech and home automation—anything that relies on remote monitoring and management—could be profound. If Bluetooth’s IPV6 support works the way Jawanda describes, it could effectively make numerous complicated, esoteric technologies extremely simple to use — For more information read the original article here.    

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