In a press release, the Bluetooth Special Interests Group (SIG) announced a new update for Bluetooth yesterday. Version 5.1 should make it possible to localize objects to a few centimetres.
How will this work?
Currently, it is possible for Bluetooth to locate all kinds of gadgets that are within a radius of one to ten meters away from you (for the most commonly used type of Bluetooth, class 2), but that’s it. That gives you a circle of up to ten meters, depending on the strength of the signal. This new version changes that because Bluetooth 5.1 is going to use new radio technology to make very precise measurements (up to a few centimetres) about the direction of a device.
So handy if you lose your car keys again, but there are also commercial applications that will make it easier for companies to follow you at a location of your choice, such as a store or an event. The exact impact of this on our privacy remains to be seen.
Currently, around 4 billion new Bluetooth products are produced each year and Mark Powell, Executive Director of SIG, hopes that by 2022 some 400 million products will use this new form of Bluetooth every year.