KIRKLAND, USA: Bluetooth Smart technology became, seemingly overnight, the de facto wireless connectivity of choice for sports and fitness devices like the 94Fifty basketball, Fitbit Force, and Basis smartwatch. Nike, Adidas, and even Garmin, replaced proprietary solutions with Bluetooth Smart for its low power consumption, low cost, range and unrivaled ubiquity, and opened up entirely new product lines because of it.
The recent swell of consumer fitness products and the adoption of a standardised wireless solution go hand-in-hand. The Bluetooth SIG, along with several key analysts, predicts the Home Automation market will be the next to turn to Bluetooth Smart. ABI Research forecasts Bluetooth Smart technology will experience the highest growth in the smart home market, reaching over 133 million units shipped by 2018.
Bluetooth Smart technology already has a significant foothold in the smart home, making it possible for locks, lights, thermostats and many more home products to connect to the Bluetooth ecosystem. Apple, Microsoft and Android offer native support for Bluetooth Smart at the operating system level, making tens of millions of phones, tablets and PCs ready to connect with these new home appcessory devices.
Doors with locks from August, Goji, Lockitron and UniKey Kwikset Kevo can be locked and unlocked using a smartphone as the key. The dimming and colour hues on light bulbs (Bluetooth Bulb and zSmart), temperature (Emerson Blue Wireless Easy Install from White-Rodgers) and even outlet plugs that estimate electricity cost (Stick-N-Find’s MeterPlug) can be monitored and controlled via Bluetooth Smart.
“The Smart Home has been the next big thing for years, but to take it from niche to mainstream you need a standardised wireless technology to connect locks, lights and thermostats to the phones, tablets and PCs that consumers already have – that technology is Bluetooth Smart,” said Suke Jawanda, Bluetooth SIG CMO.
“Not only does Bluetooth allow for integrated solutions from service providers like cable and mobile companies, but it also gives consumers the options to bring their device of choice into the Smart Home. We are still in the early stages of a truly connected living room, but Bluetooth Smart puts us all, OEMs, service providers and consumers, on the right path to Smart Home reality.”
The wide availability of Bluetooth Smart compatible smartphones, tablets and PCs offers the built-in convenience of connecting Bluetooth Smart sensor devices with hub devices consumers already own.
Bluetooth Smart device shipments are expected to reach over one billion units per annum in the next five years as device manufacturers, such as those in the home automation market, see the simplicity and ease in bringing their products to market with Bluetooth, reports ABI Research.
“Hub devices drove the first phase of growth for Bluetooth, and Bluetooth Smart enabled sensors will push the second wave of growth,” said Dan Shey, ABI Research Practice director. “Bluetooth enabled consumer electronics, including smartphones, tablets and laptops are a major factor in Bluetooth’s growth in home automation. These devices also serve to manage and interact with home automation systems.”
As more and more devices connect in the home, the applications monitoring and controlling them will need continuous access to the Internet or the cloud, which Bluetooth enabled gateways can provide. Esensors, an electronic sensor development company, started a crowdfunding campaign to develop an Internet gateway for Bluetooth Smart sensors.
The next step in home automation is moving Bluetooth Smart compatibility into other familiar gateways such as routers and set-top boxes. These gateways will provide constant connection, monitoring, and control of home-based Bluetooth smart sensors in door locks, lights or other household appliances.