The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced a new Transport Delivery Service (TDS) that it says will provide a common framework for connected devices to discover one another. The SIG promises that the new feature will allow devices with more resource-intensive technologies to stay dormant until needed and provide the wireless industry with a common framework to connect devices.
With the introduction of TDS and announced upgrades such as longer range, doubled bandwidth, and support for mesh networking, Bluetooth is positioning itself as a key standard in the development of the IoT. For example, TDS would allow devices that use other connectivity protocols to be discoverable, and for those other protocols – such as Wi-Fi – to remain powered down until needed. Effectively, TDS would transform Bluetooth into a sort of super-standard, able to make devices from multiple manufacturers communicate.
Ovum believes that no single standard can enable the entire IoT, or even the entire smart home, so moves to better connect multiple devices are welcome. Also, given Bluetooth’s ubiquity, particularly in smartphones, the technology is well placed to fulfill this role.
However, questions remain on how well Bluetooth alone can enable IoT and smart home functions. ZigBee is a technology that’s better suited to mesh networking, for example, even though it isn’t nearly as ubiquitous and there have been questions around its interoperability. ZigBee has added interoperability with Thread, the protocol set up by Nest Labs and other partners, which will make ZigBee more attractive to device OEMs.
Bluetooth should consider doing something similar. ZigBee and Z-Wave are still prevalent in the smart home, so beyond transport delivery Bluetooth could provide redundancy for features that might require an Internet connection, such as smart locks. Launching features such as TDS, and its promised increases in range, would help cement Bluetooth’s place in the smart home ecosystem.
“Bluetooth’s move to mesh networks will be key to adoption in industrial IoT,” TE0019-000010 (April 2015)
Francesco Radicati, Senior Analyst, Consumer Technology
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