The history of Bluetooth in brief: a quarter of a century for travel from 1.0 to 5.2

Wireless technologies have been around for decades. Not so long ago we wrote in our blog about the history of WiFI, and now is the time to remember about the “relative” – ​​Bluetooth technology.

Without WiFi and Bluetooth, the modern world would probably look a little different, and not necessarily better. We were lucky – once it became popular, Bluetooth technology continued to evolve, gaining new opportunities.

How it all began

The idea of ​​creating a wireless data transmission technology, besides WIFi, did not appear suddenly. Such large players of the IT market as Ericsson, Nokia, Intel, Toshiba and several other companies tried to implement it.

To concentrate and focus their efforts in March 1998, the SIG – Special Interest Group was created, which included all these and other companies. Participants had several critical requests for Bluetooth:

  • The technology must be reliable.
  • Wireless transmission should be simple.
  • Most gadgets should support it.
  • Bluetooth needs to be universal so that smartphones, laptops and other gadgets can offer wireless capabilities.

Looking ahead, it should be said that the SIG organizers have achieved what they wanted. The technology has become super-demanded and popular. The Bluetooth module is included in the design of most modern electronic gadgets. It is easier to make a list of non-Bluetooth-enabled gadgets than a list of those devices that work with this technology.

Development has been and is happening at a rapid pace. At the moment, the SIG group includes more than 30 thousand companies from all over the world.

First generation

The first version of the protocol was called that – Bluetooth 1.0, it appeared in 1998. There were complaints against her – both companies and ordinary users who complained about device compatibility, difficulty in setting up, etc.

Unfortunately, there were indeed problems with compatibility – not all gadgets quickly and efficiently detected all Bluetooth devices nearby. In addition, different devices had different versions of the wireless module, so it could well happen that two devices with seemingly identical versions of Bluetooth did not see each other.

A little later, an updated version appeared – 1.0B. And in 2000, Bluetooth 1.1 appeared with a lot of improvements – now users have the ability to determine the signal strength of a wireless connection and transfer data over unencrypted channels. And the devices in most cases saw each other. Of course, there were problems, but in most cases everything worked as it should.

Well, and “to the people” Bluetooth has been released since version 1.2. It featured increased channel bandwidth (up to 1 Mbit / s) and improved noise immunity. Plus, support for the A2DP profile appeared, which meant the ability to transmit stereo sound.

Version 2.0

Four years after the release of Bluetooth 1.1, Bluetooth 2.0 appeared. Of course, there were a lot of improvements compared to the previous generation. Here are the main ones:

  • Data transfer speed increased up to 3 Mb / s. True, this was a theoretical speed, in practice this figure was about 2 Mb / s.
  • The advent of EDR, which has improved the quality of reception and transmission.
  • Ability to work simultaneously with multiple devices.

Version 2.1 appeared several years after 2.0 was released. The developers have managed to greatly reduce power consumption, simplify the work with multiple devices. And also NFC technology appeared.

In the latest version, version 2.1, power consumption has been reduced by five times, plus the protection of transmitted data has been significantly improved.

And now – version 3.0

Everything and everyone has been improved here. The developers especially distinguished themselves in terms of improving the data transfer speed. The theoretical bandwidth limit is 24 Mb / s. In practice, it turned out slightly lower, but still much more than in version 2.0.

Interestingly, version 3.0 also included 2.0. The newer one was used when a large amount of data had to be transferred. Previous – in the event that the file is small, high data transfer rate is not particularly needed.

A year later – Bluetooth 4.0

Each new version of Bluetooth came out faster than the previous one. Thus, the “four” came out just a year after the “three”. Manufacturers of mobile devices had not yet mastered the purchased chips with Bluetooth 3.0, and it was already necessary to release models of devices with an updated standard.

A huge plus for 4.0 is its low power consumption. It is so small that Bluetooth modules can be installed in small sensors, sensors and other devices. Energy savings are made possible by the fact that the chip is activated only at the moment of sending or receiving data.

As a result, a regular CR2032 battery is enough for several years of operation of the 4.0 module. It is thanks to this feature of the fourth generation of wireless communication that it became possible to issue search tags for keys, wallets, etc. It was impossible to imagine this before.

In the fourth version, the range is significantly increased – up to 100 meters.

This version lasted for several years, with various improvements added in the protocol updates – 4.1 and 4.2.

Finally, Bluetooth 5.0

On June 16, 2016, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) introduced the Bluetooth 5.0 specification. The radius was increased by another four times, up to 300 meters, and the speed, in comparison with the “four” – by two, up to 48 Mbit / s. Indoors, the range of wireless communication is reduced to 40 meters, which is also very good.

In addition, in this version, we managed to get rid of problems in the protocol that led to exploitation of vulnerabilities by attackers. This is a BlueBorne issue that has resulted in a large number of devices being compromised.

Bluetooth 5 is ideal for IoT devices due to its low power consumption and high data transfer rate. One of the advantages of this version of wireless communication is that it can work in very congested places in terms of radio emission.

Bluetooth 5 is used in a wide variety of devices, including the industrial IoT, any wearable device, from trackers to smartwatches, smartphones, media centers, laptops, and more.

And yet – the sound can be broadcast to several devices at once, so that several users can connect to one source at once. This feature has been improved in Bluetooth 5.2. It includes LE Isochronous Channels, a feature to support the new LE Audio transmission standard. It makes it possible to transmit time-bound data to one or more devices for time-synchronized processing (example: wireless headphones with separate receivers), as well as for parallel broadcasting to an unlimited number of devices. Version 5.2 appeared in early January 2020.

As for Bluetooth 6.0, it is likely that the development of a new specification is already underway, but there is no information on it yet, so we are waiting.

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