How Bluetooth reinvented itself

February 12, 2018
Chloe Johns


Bluetooth underwent a sort of gold rush between the tech hitting its first consumer devices in 2000 and its first billion 6 years later. MP3 players, digital cameras, mice and keyboard. No device category was safe.

It wasn’t long before the advertising industry caught wind. Because of how smartphones at the time interpreted Bluetooth broadcasts, it was possible for companies to send ads directly to your phone. Proximity Marketing. If you were unfortunate enough to find yourself nearby an unscrupulous advertiser, you may have been greeted by the following sight:

Use of Bluetooth in advertising

Thankfully, modern OSs put a stop to this

In the following years, the Bluetooth hype died down for a while. Exciting new tech like WiFi Direct, NFC, Miracast and AirPlay helped push it out of the limelight. But not to be deterred, Bluetooth is making a comeback.

Audio has been a huge player in the Bluetooth renaissance. Affordable wireless speakers and decisions made by a few courageous phone manufacturers mean more people are keeping the setting switched on on their devices. Not to mention your Xbox One or PS4 controller, applications of Bluetooth for accessibility, pathfinding and even ice cubes.

Due to this increased visibility, as well as some big updates to standard (Bluetooth Smart had big implications for use in the Internet of Things), we decided that it was time to bring Bluetooth to public transport. Our vision is one where passengers can use transport seamlessly, without wasteful paper tickets or expensive electronic ones, and beacons ensure that you always pay the best price. Despite the good news for Bluetooth, there are some persistent myths that continue to plague public opinion. Let’s have a quick run-though and shed some light on them.

  • Bluetooth drains your battery
    Back in the days of Bluetooth 1.0, sending files or using a headset could be a real power hog. Sure, phones had smaller batteries and less efficient antennae back then, but to say that the tech has come a long way since then would be an understatement.The max power consumption of Bluetooth Smart is only 15mA, 10% of the power of old school Bluetooth. With modern day smartphone batteries, you could use it all day and it would barely make a dent.
  • You have to be right next to the device
    Gone are the days of touching phones together to try and send things faster (Although Hot Knot looks like keeping that alive for a while). The body that manages Bluetooth specifications mandates that all devices need a range of at least 10 meters.Version 5 of the tech, which first saw the light of day on the Galaxy S8, can handle more than four times that at no additional power cost. I’m sure many of you reading have opened the Bluetooth menu on your phones or computers in a public place to see a list of dozens of devices. And that’s only those which are discoverable.
  • Pairing is a pain
    0000 or 1234. Everyone’s favourite pairing passwords. Newer versions of Bluetooth support simple pairing, which means that devices without screens (headphones, mice, keyboards) can pair with just a few taps or by using NFC.For a seamless travel experience, that’s still too hands-on for us. Thankfully, Bluetooth beacons don’t need to pair to transfer data when a user has a compatible app installed. As long as you have the Ticketless app, you can walk onto a bus or train and your ticket will be validated with your phone still in your bag.

Bluetooth’s second wind is an exciting time and we can’t wait to see what other IoT innovations it will play a part in.