The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has released a new specification for the technology that it said will increase its capabilities for location services.
A spokesperson for the trade association, which manages the wireless technology, said this could encourage the development of new solutions for use in hospitals, public spaces and possibly social care.
The new version 5.1 of the Bluetooth core specification has become available to developers today, along with an update of Launch Studio, a tool used to qualify products.
Bluetooth SIG said the specification includes a direction finding feature that improves the accuracy of the technology from one metre down to 10cm. This should increase its capability within proximity solutions for tasks such as asset tracking and wayfinding inside large buildings.
The technology has gained some traction in the healthcare area, among others, since the development of Bluetooth Low Energy in 2011. Bluetooth SIG’s developer relations manager EMEA, Martin Woolley, said the new specification should encourage further developments for healthcare and has other possibilities in public services.
“It’s about applying the general capability to the scenarios,” he said. “Tracking things in hospitals, which are large, complicated buildings, is an example.
“I think there isn’t a viable alternative to the new Bluetooth capability that will give you that kind of accuracy for the multitude of things that you have in hospitals. They have big complicated structures inside them, so I think Bluetooth direction finding will be a great benefit potentially in providing much improved asset and people tracking.
“It can track the whereabouts of people inside hospitals in terms of patients and staff.”
He added it could also help people visiting hospitals in finding their way inside the buildings and pointed to applications for tracking vulnerable people in social care.
Another area in which it could be used is to provide information on public spaces or the contents of museums and galleries through smartphones equipped with Bluetooth.
Wooley also said that Bluetooth should be seen as a complement to global positioning system technology, which is more widely used for wayfinding purposes, as it works more effectively indoors and with a higher degree of accuracy.
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