As I pointed out in my last blog, one of the major impediments in the expansion of home automation technologies is the lack of a single architecture or standard to pull it all together. Some think that that standard is here with Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Smart. BT is already the crowned king of wireless headsets for smartphones. Most of you probably also use a BT connected keyboard or mouse for your laptop or tablet.
Smart has characteristics that make it a natural fit for home automation devices. First, is consumer recognition. Billions of BT devices are already out in the market and the Bluetooth-SIG has spent years focusing on branding and education of consumers about the technology and its uses. BlueTooth is one technology that whether you use a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone you can be virtually assured that your device is compatible and connect to other Bluetooth devices. In addition, Bluetooth continues to expand in non-traditional segments such as healthcare and wearables. Every major operating system supports Bluetooth and you can be assured that if your home was automated using Smart, your Android, IoS or Windows device could seamlessly integrate into the system.
Not only do consumers recognize BT, but they benefit directly from the fact that that billions of Bluetooth devices have shipped. Billions shipped means costs have been driven down to levels that allow Bluetooth to be an inexpensive addition to any connected device. In addition the pairing technology has been simplified to allow even the most technology phobic consumers to easily connect.
So Bluetooth has the recognition, has the penetration in consumer devices, how about performance? In today’s home automation equipment speed is not the metric for performance. Battery life, flexibility and usability are much more important parameters. Here Smart has a definite advantage over many other wireless technologies. Bluetooth Smart was designed as a low-power specification and provides the ability to meet the needs of today’s battery driven devices. In addition, Bluetooth Smart has a range, theoretically 100m (330ft) or more that in general covers all but the largest homes. Finally, Bluetooth’s many profiles allow designers the flexibility to develop whatever applications their minds can imagine, and the expansion into new segments such as automotive, retail and IoT will continue to drive the technology.
So before we close let’s discuss the downside of Bluetooth Smart. Though I believe the pairing issue of the old days is gone, many consumers still consider this to be THE major drawback of Bluetooth. I must admit it’s not as simple as other technologies but I do believe that it has improved greatly since many consumers first use of Bluetooth. Whether consumers ultimately feel their current “love/hate” relationship with Bluetooth pairing will trump the positives of the technology is yet to be seen, but I personally believe that the advantages greatly outweigh the current state of Bluetooth pairing.
Bluetooth is all around us and could easily be THE solution to a standard for home automation, will it?