OS support + new applications = endless Bluetooth Smart possibilities

Today, there are smartwatches, health monitors, sporting equipment, proximity location devices and more appcessories that use Bluetooth low energy connectivity to wirelessly share information with a smartphone or tablet. But there has been a certain cap on the Bluetooth Smart market because its native operating system (OS) support has been incomplete. Until now.

In the past week, Android and Blackberry 10 joined iOS and Windows 8 with support for Bluetooth Smart—signaling Bluetooth low energy’s coming of age. Additionally Apple and Microsoft recently announced updates that improve Bluetooth Smart performance, thereby making Bluetooth low energy support in their OS more stable, robust and feature rich. The support of these four OS’s removes barriers that have prevented Bluetooth low energy technology from becoming truly pervasive and part of all of our lives.

When you think about it, the market opportunity for Bluetooth Smart devices has more than doubled in the space of two months. Bluetooth Smart appcessories will be able to connect to a much broader base of smartphones, tablets and other Bluetooth Smart Ready devices. Plus with the backing of these OS’s, app developers will be able to monetize across all platforms and increase the Bluetooth Smart-enabled apps on the market. For more details on the OS updates, take a read through this blog post from Steve Hegenderfer, director of developer programs for the Bluetooth SIG.

The larger market opportunity will also open-up new applications that can take advantage of Bluetooth low energy’s battery-friendly wireless connectivity. Bluetooth is the last 10 meters of the Internet of Things (IoT) to get data from the sensors and gadgets in our homes, offices, and automobiles to our smartphones and then the cloud for accessibility anywhere, anytime. The industrial market has untapped potential to add Bluetooth low energy technology to human machine interfaces (HMIs), cable replacements, personalization of work areas, maintenance and more. The automobile market can use Bluetooth low energy for wire replacement and further integration with smartphones and tablets to provide a far superior user experience. And these are just two examples in the myriad of possibilities.

At TI, we welcome all of the industry’s love for Bluetooth Smart. The CC2540 and CC2541 system-on-chips support iOS, Android, Windows 8 and BlackBerry10 and we are hard at work adding more sample applications to help developers and manufacturers get started. Our BLE-Stack software and its unique over-the-air (OTA) download feature are becoming more important as OS updates roll-out. OTA downloads mean fast seamless updates and less hassle and headaches for consumers and manufacturers alike to make sure that Bluetooth Smart devices can work with smartphones and tablets after firmware and software upgrades.

It has been a great spring and summer for Bluetooth Smart so far and I can’t wait to see what new appcessories, apps and use cases will follow this fall and winter. The landscape has changed with broad OS support bringing a new wave of Bluetooth Smart innovation and endless possibilities for the market.  Let us know what you would add Bluetooth low energy to and be sure to check out our Wiki and E2E forums to get ideas, ask questions and get support from TI and the community on your projects.