What are the new features in Bluetooth 5.1?

By Eunice Samson | February 7, 2019 |

greater than 4 minutes

The next iteration of Bluetooth is about to open new opportunities for developers to dabble in their creative side. It may take some time before Bluetooth 5.1 makes its way to most laptops, phones, and other devices. However, the industry group that oversees Bluetooth technology—the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG)—recently shared some of the major features of the technology that will get you stoked.

If you tend to forget your keys and other small pieces of belongings, then you’ll like the improved accuracy level of Bluetooth 5.1’s tracking capabilities. Aside from that, there are other new features you should look forward to. In this post, we are going to discuss what is new in Bluetooth 5.1.

Proximity Accuracy with Bluetooth 5.1

The proximity systems that the current Bluetooth technology has can only guess the distance of a device. By detecting signal strength, it will know that the device is a few meters away. However, it will not be able to tell which direction the signal is coming from.

The SIG announced that the new direction-finding feature in Bluetooth 5.1 has been improved. There will be a positioning system that can determine the direction from where the signal is coming. Bluetooth devices will be able to assess the direction and distance to determine the precise location of the signal source down to the centimeter.

There are two methods that Bluetooth 5.1 uses to identify the direction, namely “Angle of Arrival” (AoA) and “Angle of Departure” (AoD). It is essential for one of the two devices to have multiple antennas. Those antennas will receive the data that will help the device determine where the Bluetooth signal is coming from.

By now, you might wonder, how does Bluetooth 5.1 work on Windows 10? Well, once you update the Bluetooth version in your device, a good positioning system will be able to identify its exact location. So, if you are navigating indoors or you lost your laptop in the house, Bluetooth 5.1 will help make the searching process simpler and easier for you. Gone are the days when you needed to flip the house over just to find your keys or your tiny Bluetooth earbuds.

Less Power Yet Faster Connection Initiation

For many, version 5.1 of the Bluetooth technology is not a huge leap from version 5.0. While the changes are relatively minor, they are still quite useful. For instance, the new Bluetooth version will have better caching that improves connection speed and lowers power usage.

Devices with the Bluetooth Low Energy feature use the Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) technology which performs ‘service discovery’ whenever a client device tries to connect. This way, it will be able to determine what the server device supports. It is worth noting that this process can consume a significant amount of time and power.

On the other hand, Bluetooth 5.1 will perform a more aggressive method of caching. As such, clients do not have to go through the service discovery stage. The improvement on GATT caching ensures faster connection with less power consumption.

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Improvements on Connection Advertising

  • Bluetooth 5.1 will also come with several connection advertising enhancements. Keep in mind that the term ‘advertising’ in this technology refers to the way Bluetooth devices announce that they are available to connect. Basically, they are broadcasting their presence to other Bluetooth devices nearby. Ideally, this feature makes connections function better.
  • Another new feature you can expect from Bluetooth 5.1 is ‘randomized advertising channel indexing’. The current version of Bluetooth requires devices to strictly and chronologically cycle through channels 37, 38, and 39. With version 5.1, devices can choose channels randomly. As such, the chances of two Bluetooth devices interfering with each other over the same channel will be reduced. This improvement will be useful in places where there are several Bluetooth devices.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 has a feature which enables devices to synchronize their ‘advertising’ schedule to the connection scanning of another device. For instance, if you are using Bluetooth to connect your smartphone to a TV, the TV can let your phone know when it will advertise through a data field called ‘SyncInfo’. As such, your phone will no longer need to constantly scan for the TV. On the other hand, it will know precisely when the TV will broadcast its availability. Since the devices know when to exchange data, they can potentially save power.
  • It is worth noting that the amount of energy that the ‘periodic advertising sync’ exchange uses is still relatively significant, especially for low-power devices. On the other hand, Bluetooth 5.1 comes with a ‘periodic advertising sync transfer’ feature which allows devices to transfer data to each other during the process. Let’s say your smartphone is scanning for a Bluetooth connection to your TV. Along the process, it can also transmit the TV’s advertising schedule to a connected smartwatch. Consequently, you can save power on your battery-constrained smartwatch because it does not have to perform the scanning itself.

We have to wait for a while before manufacturers can release appropriate hardware, which can maximize the capabilities of Bluetooth 5.1. However, as early as now, we can aptly prepare for the new technology. As we’ve shared in one of our posts, malware can spread through Bluetooth connections. So, you need to ensure that your device has the right protection. There are many security programs out there, but we can attest to the capabilities and reliability of Auslogics Anti-Malware.

Auslogics Anti-Malware has the ability to detect threats and malicious programs you’d never suspect existed. What’s more, it is designed not to conflict with your main antivirus. You can think of it as another layer of security for your device that can protect your data once you connect over Bluetooth 5.1.

What do you think of Bluetooth 5.1?

Share your comments below!

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