Bluetooth 5.1 knows where you are -- down to the centimeter -- and which way you're facing

Bluetooth 5.1

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has revealed some new features of Bluetooth 5.1, and there's a lot to get excited about. While Bluetooth is perhaps most readily associated with connecting peripherals, there is so much more to it than that thanks to the addition of a direction-finding feature.

Used in conjunction with real-time locating systems (RTLS) and indoor positioning systems (IPS), Bluetooth 5.1 promises, among other things, improved tracking of devices, and better indoor navigation tools.


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Writing about the Bluetooth 5.1 standard, the SIG says: "The new feature allows devices to determine the direction of a Bluetooth signal, thereby enabling the development of Bluetooth proximity solutions that can understand device direction as well as Bluetooth positioning systems that can achieve down to centimeter-level location accuracy."

This is a marked improvement over the current levels of accuracy, and it lends itself to many applications. In addition to indoor navigation systems, it could be used to help track the location of devices fitted with the necessary hardware.

SIG also says:

Bluetooth location services solutions generally fall into two categories; proximity solutions and positioning systems. Today, proximity solutions use Bluetooth to understand when two devices are near each other, and approximately how far apart. They include item finding solutions such as personal property tags, as well as point-of-interest (PoI) information solutions like proximity marketing beacons. By including the new direction finding feature, Bluetooth proximity solutions can add device direction capability. For example, an item finding solution could not only let a user know when a personal property tag is nearby, but also in what direction, greatly enhancing the user experience.

Developers can already take advantage of version 5.1 of the Bluetooth Core Specification, but it's not yet clear when it might make its way to a wider audience.

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