Bluetooth Is About To Get Much Better At Finding Things

Bluetooth is about to get a whole lot better at finding things thanks to its new direction finding feature.

Anyone who has purchased a Bluetooth-enabled tracking device over the last few years will already be aware that Bluetooth is capable of helping users find things they have misplaced by using their smartphone as a locator. However, in the new direction finding feature announcement, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) explains that accuracy has remained an issue. But that's about to change.

The big selling point with the new direction finding feature is not that it will help you locate things (as it can already do that), but it will help you locate things even better than before and more importantly, more accurately than ever before. Almost to the degree where Bluetooth is able to pinpoint a location as the direction finding feature is said to be accurate to the centimeter-level.

The Bluetooth SIG explains that previously these device tracking solutions that relied on Bluetooth simply relied on identifying two devices were nearby and then calculating the distance between them. With the new feature included, the same approach applies but with direction now added to the equation, the degree of accuracy has been greatly increased.

This is not just for those who use location tracking devices either, as the feature has the potential to impact marketing as well.

In recent years, Bluetooth on smartphones has been utilized, along with Bluetooth beacons, as a way for businesses to reach out to consumers that are nearby. This is the modern version of point-of-interest (PoI) marketing and it too will now be able to utilize direction and centimeter-level accuracy.

Speaking even more broadly, Bluetooth is also useful to businesses that take a more technology-focused approach to stock control and management. While this is essentially an extension of the individual item tracking ability, it is a far more robust solution and one that utilizes a different side of the Bluetooth tracking ability - positioning instead if proximity. Unlike the proximity solution that's defined by the difference between two Bluetooth devices, positional systems utilize real-time tracking and down to the meter-level of accuracy. Again, thanks to the new direction finding feature, positioning systems will also now benefit from the same centimeter-level accuracy.

Although now announced, the direction finding feature is part of the Bluetooth 5.1 version and so it might be some time before users or businesses are able to take advantage of the feature.

Bluetooth 5.1 was released this week as a specification for developers to work with and so once devices are released with the new version, it’s likely owners of those devices will be able to utilize direction finding-based features.

Based on the history of smartphone releases, that might mean a long wait for smartphone buyers. For example, most incoming devices in the first half of this year will likely come equipped with Bluetooth 5.0.

As to be expected with a new version, Bluetooth 5.1 will also include other additional improvements, although by the looks of it so far the direction finding feature seems to be the most noteworthy. Which is not that surprising as the feature has the potential to change the way in which you navigate and find things inside with your smartphone. Something which can in theory be applied to any public space, such as an airport or mall.

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About the Author
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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]